Tokyo — Declaring that North Korea was “a threat to the civilized world,” President Donald Trump vowed Monday in Japan that the United States “will not stand” for Pyongyang menacing America or its allies.
Trump, in one of the Asian capitals threatened by North Korea’s missiles, did not rule out military action and exhorted dictator Kim Jong Un to cease weapons testing like the missiles he has fired over Japanese territory in recent weeks. The president also denounced efforts by the Obama administration to manage Pyongyang, declaring again that “the era of strategic patience was over.”
Japan supports Trump’s policy that all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday in a joint press conference.
“We always support President Trump’s policy that all options are on the table,” in reining in North Korea over its provocative actions involving its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Abe said.
“Some people say my rhetoric is very strong but look what has happened with very weak rhetoric in last 25 years,” said Trump, who stood with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference and stated that North Korea imperiled “international peace and stability.”
Trump stressed US military power and resolve while wearing a bomber jacket in front of service personnel but speaking to reporters on the plane, he reserved some warm words for the North Korean people.
“I think they’re great people. They’re industrious. They’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows or understands. They’re great people. And I hope it all works out for everybody,” he said.
However, he described North Korea as “a big problem for our country and for our world and we want to get it solved”.
Trump also announced that he would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip, as the global community scrambles for a solution to the North Korean crisis.
“We want Putin’s help on North Korea,” said Trump.
Abe, who has taken a more hawkish view on North Korea than some of his predecessors, agreed with Trump’s assessment that “all options on the table” when dealing with Kim Jong Un and announced new sanctions against several dozen North Korea individuals. The two men also put a face on the threat posed by the North, earlier standing with anguished families of Japanese citizens snatched by Pyongyang’s agents, as Trump called their abductions “a tremendous disgrace.”
Trump pledged to work to return the missing to their families, intensifying the pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by elevating these heart-wrenching tales of loss to the international stage in hopes of pushing Pyongyang to end its provocative behavior toward American allies in the region.
“We’ve just heard the very sad stories about family members – daughters, wives, brothers uncles, fathers – it’s a very, very sad number of stories that we’ve heard,” Trump said
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump stood with nearly two dozen relatives, some of whom held photos of the missing. North Korea has acknowledged apprehending 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, but claims they all died or have been released. But in Japan, where grieving relatives of the abducted have become a symbol of heartbreak on the scale of American POW families, the government insists many more were taken – and that some may still be alive.
Japan orchestrated a lavish formal welcome for the Trumps, complete with military honor guard and an audience with Japan’s Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, at the Imperial Palace.
Trump, meanwhile, sports a spontaneous and, at times, impatient manner, on display again Monday when he and Abe took part in a traditional feeding of koi in a pond.
At first, Trump followed Abe’s lead by gently spooning out small amounts feed into the pond below. But after a few tosses, he abruptly stopped, and dumped the entire box of feed down to the fish. Abe laughed. The incident caused outrage among fish lovers on Twitter, with many pointing out that fish cannot absorb a large amount of food at a time.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, standing just behind Trump, appeared to break out in laughter at his boss’s no-nonsense approach to koi feeding.
But some uncharitable Twitter users were less forgiving, with several writing: “Trump can’t even feed fish right.”
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