TOKYO: The United States’ most senior military officer on Friday said North Korea understands that any attack on Japan is equal to one on the US itself—and vice versa.
General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held talks with his Japanese counterpart at the defense ministry in Tokyo, wrapping up a regional tour during heightened tensions with North Korea.
Tokyo remains on alert against potential military provocations by Pyongyang after North Korea threatened to fire missiles towards the Pacific island of Guam, US territory, which would have flown over Japan.
“I think we made it clear to North Korea and anyone else in the region that an attack on one is an attack on both of us,” Dunford told Katsutoshi Kawano, Chief of Staff of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.
“And that’s very, very important for deterrence,” added Dunford, who visited South Korea and China before arriving in Japan.
Dunford added that the US reaffirmed its “ironclad commitment” to the security of Japan on Thursday when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with their Japanese counterparts in Washington.
Japan frequently demands—and receives—US reassurances over its commitment to defend its ally.
The US and Japan, adversaries in World War II, have forged a decades-long defense alliance and the US stations tens of thousands of troops in the country.
Washington has long encouraged Japan to take on more defense responsibility even though the country is militarily constrained by a US-written constitution imposed after the end of World War II.