US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong last Saturday in Hawaii, discussing threats posed by North Korea and other shared concerns following a series of missile tests.

“But we increasingly recognize that if we’re going to meet the complex challenges of our time – and take full advantage of the opportunities for our people – the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the United States must do more together. We have to learn to do trilaterally what’s become natural to do bilaterally,” said Blinken at the press conference.

As North Korea’s recent testing of its Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missile that’s capable of reaching US territories such as Guam destabilizing the region, the three countries discussed how they were going to coordinate to contain North Korea and promote global security. The countries involved also deeply condemned these ballistic missile launches by nuclear-capable North Korea.

In this light, the three countries have pledged to expand their collaboration and cooperation efforts across security and economic efforts regionally and globally. It also called on North Korea to cease its unlawful activities and invited the hermit country into diplomatic dialogues, and that the three countries did not have hostile intent towards Pyongyang and its leader, Kim Jong-Un.

“The Secretary and Foreign Ministers emphasized they held no hostile intent towards the DPRK and underscored continued openness to meeting the DPRK without preconditions,” said the press release.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks at South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, February 12, 2022 (AP via Japan Forward). Source:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks at South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-Yong with Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, February 12, 2022 (Kevin Lamarque/Pool Photo/AP via Japan Forward)

Blinken, together with his Japanese and Korean counterparts, all shared their intent to complete the denuclearization of North Korea and pushed for the full implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions relating to the DPRK. The US, South Korea, and Japan have expressed their full commitment to pursuing a peaceful and stable region through international law and hope to have more regular trilateral consultations in the future.

Chung also echoed Blinken’s statements regarding the DPRK and its missile launches, stating that the meeting was timely and constructive. “We welcome the Biden administration’s commitment to the value of alliances and its willingness to proactively engage in the Indo-Pacific and through the strengthening of the ROK-U.S. alliance and trilateral coordination among Korea, the US, and Japan. We are determined to continue working in concert,” said the Korean Foreign Minister.

North Korean Missile Tests Are A Reminder

Many political observers see that the recent North Korean missile tests were not just a provocation but also a reminder to the West that the North was still highly capable of defending itself. Others have seen it as an attempt to pressure the United States to ease the economic sanctions on the DPRK, which had further crippled the already weak economy.