US, Japan, South Korea hold rare military meeting as North Korea launches missile

Pyongyang launched a long-range ballistic missile off its east coast just hours before planned talks between Japan PM and South Korea President

By Reuters

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 7:46 AM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jul 2023, 7:48 AM

The United States' top general met with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts for a rare trilateral meeting in Hawaii on Tuesday, which came as North Korea launched its twelfth missile this year.

Washington has been pressing the uneasy neighbours to work more closely to better counter rising threats from North Korea.

Seoul and Tokyo have strained relations over disputes dating to Japan's 1910-1945 occupation of Korea.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday on the sidelines of a NATO summit, with the release of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant and North Korea expected on the agenda.

Japan plans to soon start releasing more than a million tons of treated radioactive water from its tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, a move which has stirred anger and concern among South Koreans.

After a two-year review, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last week Japan's plans were consistent with global safety standards and that they would have a "negligible radiological impact to people and the environment".

A South Korean presidential official has said the Fukushima water discharge plan could be discussed at the meeting.

South Korea's government said on Friday it respected the IAEA's report and that its own analysis had found the release will not have "any meaningful impact" on its waters.

But Seoul has said it will decide whether it will agree or not to Japan's release when Tokyo comes up with the final plan.

North Korea is also likely to be a focus during the meeting, which will take place in Lithuania, after Pyongyang launched a long-range ballistic missile off its east coast just hours before the planned talks.

Seoul and Tokyo have in recent years been taking steps to improve ties between the old northeast Asian rivals, especially due to the threat from North Korea.

Pyongyang has been making heated complaints in recent days over US military activities in the region, accusing an American spy plane of entering its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and warning of a "very critical flight" if they continued what it called "illegal intrusion."

Separately, Yoon also plans hold a meeting with leaders of Japan, Australia and New Zealand while in Lithuania.


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