US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Japan following visits to South Korea and China amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Kerry arrived in the capital, Tokyo, on Sunday on the final leg of his four-day tour of Asia, and he is expected to discuss the regional tensions with Japanese officials. The Korean Peninsula has been locked in a cycle of escalating military rhetoric following the participation of nuclear-capable US B-52 and B-2 stealth bombers in recent joint military exercises with South Korea. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Sunday that he expected Washington and Tokyo to send a “strong message” signal to North Korea. “It is important that we coordinate internationally and firmly tell North Korea that it must give up its nuclear and missile programs,” Onodera told reporters. On Saturday, Kerry visited China, where Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for denuclearization, peace and dialogue as the best solution to the ongoing crisis on the Korean Peninsula. “China’s stance on the Korean Peninsula is consistent. No matter what happens, China will stick to denuclearization and peace on the peninsula and settling the issue through dialogue,” Wang said in talks with John Kerry. The Chinese foreign minister stressed that Beijing was seriously concerned about the rising tensions in the region, urging related parties to refrain from any act that would destabilize the situation. On March 30, North Korea declared that it was in a “state of war” with South Korea. Pyongyang warned that if Washington and Seoul launched a preemptive attack, the conflict would “not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.” On April 9, North Korea urged all foreign institutions, enterprises, and tourists in South Korea to leave the country, warning that the Korean Peninsula was nearing a ‘thermonuclear war.’