US, Japan, South Korea Advance Missile Defense Discussions

The United States, Japan, and South Korea announced preliminary plans to expand ballistic missile defense cooperation and improve information sharing to build a stronger multilateral deterrent against North Korean missile threats. Word of the initiative emerged in mid May. Then, on May 31, on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin held trilateral discussions and declared afterwards “they do not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.” They also agreed to “closely coordinate” to deter future provocations. To do this, the three nations reaffirmed the necessity for a “coordinated response” to North Korea. While the United States already has close ties with both Japan and South Korea, it is attempting to foster three-way cooperation. “The three ministers did say they will continue to discuss information sharing, but the size and scope and timeline for those discussions were not stated,” Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool told Air Force Magazine on Tuesday. Hagel also met with both defense ministers individually in Singapore.