President Donald Trump says the “era of strategic patience” is over with North Korea.
As he spoke at a joint news conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, he said: “some say my rhetoric is strong, but look what’s happened with weak rhetoric over the last 25 years.”
Trump stressed the US had a strong relationship with Japan. He said the United State is “committed to improving our economic relationship” and that he wants a “free, fair and reciprocal trading relationship.”
Trump kicked off his Asian tour in Japan on Sunday. He held a working lunch and a bilateral meeting with Abe and paid a formal state call on Japan’s Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, at the Imperial Palace.
Earlier, Trump said he had heard “very sad” stories from families of Japanese citizens snatched by Pyongyang’s agents.
Trump participated in a meeting on Monday with the families and appeared afterward with family members holding photographs.
He said what happened was a “tremendous disgrace” and promised to work with Abe to “see if we can bring them back to Japan.”
North Korea has acknowledged apprehending 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, but claims they all died or have been released. But in Japan the government insists more were taken – and believes some may be alive.
First Lady Melania Trump meanwhile took a lesson in Japanese calligraphy at a Tokyo elementary school.
The first lady visited the school Monday with her Japanese counterpart, Akie Abe. About 300 children welcomed them with a school song and Melania Trump posed for photos, shook hands and slapped high fives with the kids.