US Defence Chief Mattis reaffirms ties with Japan, says any nuke attack from South Korea would trigger overwhelming response

03 February 2017, 08:54 PM
US Defence Chief James Mattis (Getty)
US Defence Chief James Mattis (Getty)

Newly-appointed US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Friday said that United States stands 100 percent with Japan. His remarks came on a visit meant to confirm the importance of the countries' security alliance.

“We stand firmly, 100 percent, shoulder-to-shoulder with you and (the) Japanese people,” Mattis told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after arriving on his first visit since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

“I wanted to make certain that Article Five of our mutual defence treaty is understood to be as real to us today as it was a year ago, five years ago and it will be a year and 10 years from now,” he added in remarks at the start of their meeting.

Mattis’ visit marks the first overseas trip of any senior official from US President Donald Trump's administration.

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Mattis on his campaigning trail raised the possibility of Japan and South Korea arming themselves with nuclear weapons, and accused Seoul and Tokyo of not paying their fair share for US troops stationed in their countries.

Some 47,000 US troops are stationed in Japan and another 28,500 in South Korea.

Abe stressed on the importance of alliance between the two countries. He is also set to hold a summit with Trump next week in US.

“I do have a hope, and also I am convinced, together with you and President Trump we will be able to demonstrate the unwavering alliance between Japan and the United State both to the public inside Japan as well as outside Japan,” Abe said.

Abe also praised Mattis as the right person for the job of US defence chief.

While Mattis didn’t hesitate to stress on tit-for-tat approach as he said that any nuclear attack by North Korea would trigger an effective and overwhelming response.

With PTI Inputs

First Published: Friday, February 03, 2017 08:48 PM
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