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Japan's defense chief warns of possible North Korea provocation on October 10

01 October 2017

Amid tension on North Korea's ballistic missile tests and nuclear explosion, US President Donald Trump will undertake visit to five Asian countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines in the first fortnight of November this year.

North Korea also has a history of using submarines to infiltrate South Korean waters. The U.S. State Department has estimated that North Korea had more than 1.18 million armed forces personnel in 2014, making it the fourth-largest army in the world after China (2.37 million), India (1.41 million) and the United States (1.43 million).

Trump has offered fiery rhetoric and a tough stance against the North's nuclear weapons program, declaring in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week that the US would "totally destroy" North Korea if provoked.

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"The top priority is to secure abilities to counter the North Korean nuclear and missile threats", he said.

The rhetoric has escalated as Trump has vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea if forced to defend the United States or its allies and has mocked its leader, Kim Jong Un, as "Little Rocket Man".

With China, enforcing existing measures against Pyongyang in compliance with United Nations sanctions will likely be an important topic, Glaser said.

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A U.S. official said Asian leaders who met Trump at the United Nations General Assembly in NY last week helped persuade him to attend in unity with key Asian allies. The millions of actual deaths North Korea had suffered during the war-out of a population at the time of less than 10 million-were not noted as contributing to the country's "paranoia".

North Korea's SLBM launches began to be made public in May 2015. "We would like to maintain a sense of urgency", Onodera told reporters.

North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile launches this year, including two launches over Japan in recent weeks, in defiance of worldwide pressure. Among Trump's Asia stops, Japan and Vietnam are two of the previous TPP members. But visits by senior officials, including the secretaries of state, defense and commerce, and Mr Trump's planned trip, showed Washington meant to remain engaged. North Korea responded with pledges to take the "highest-level" action against the United States and warned that it might conduct the "most powerful" atmospheric hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean.

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"It would be helpful if the President would highlight some trade practices of our partners we appreciate as well as those we most want to see changed", Scissors said.

Japan's defense chief warns of possible North Korea provocation on October 10