A senior Japanese official said Wednesday that Tokyo considers the U.S.-South Korea joint exercise, along with those between the three allies, as key pillars of deterrence in the region.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura said Japan is moving ahead with the preparation for planned talks between the North's leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in hopes they would provide a momentum toward comprehensively resolving North Korea's problems.
Nishimura said Japan will continue to cooperate with the U.S. and South Korea and they agree on the need to maintain sanctions until the North changes its current policy.
He says: "We believe that steady implementation of U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise is important to maintain the regional peace and safety."
North Korea has canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea on Wednesday over U.S.-South Korean military drills and says it has no interest in the summit with Trump if it's going to be a "one-sided" affair where it's pressured to give up its nukes.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said the military exercises between Washington and Seoul will go on despite an angry reaction from North Korea that broke off a high-level meeting between the Koreas.
The ministry's spokeswoman Choi Hyunsoo said Wednesday the Max Thunder drills are chiefly about improving the skills of pilots and aren't attack exercises.
The drills, which began Monday and reportedly include some 100 aircraft, will continue through May 25.
The North has long denounced the military exercises between the rivals as invasion rehearsals.
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