US Vice president Pence reassures Japan as North Korea threatens 'weekly' tests

"We are fully prepared to handle it", Han said.

US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea on Monday that recent US strikes in Syria, one of Pyongyang's few close allies, and Afghanistan showed that the resolve of President Donald Trump should not be tested.

The American-Chinese effort seeks to "get this under control and aim for the denuclearised Korean peninsula" desired by China, the US, South Korea and Japan, he said as he flew to the Middle East for a tour.

Pence arrived in Japan on Tuesday and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for discussions on security and trade.

Earlier this month, China's General Administration of Customs said that the country's trade with North Korea grew 37.4 percent in the first quarter of this year.

From the wind-swept deck of a massive aircraft carrier, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the USA military, promising it would make an "overwhelming and effective" response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.

The statement added that North Korea is a peace-loving country but also a nuclear power that is unafraid of war and would not hesitate to exercise all options for a counter-attack.

Mr Pence, whose visit started in South Korea the day after the failed launch by North Korea of what analysts said could have been a new missile, said the threat from the isolated regime was growing.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a fresh appeal for calm.

Wang told reporters that although USA officials have made clear that a military strike remains on the table, he believes that Washington would still prefer to de-escalate tensions through multi-sided talks.

For his part, Abe called for a peaceful solution to the crisis with North Korea, as reported by AFP. Pence's trip has so far been dominated by concerns over North Korea.

The Obama administration's basic policy of "strategic patience" held that the USA government would not engage in dialogue unless North Korea took concrete actions toward denuclearization.

His plane touched down Tuesday at the US military's Atsugi base outside Tokyo.

White House officials say the meetings in Tokyo are meant to forge a framework for future discussions after the US withdrew from a Pacific Rim trade pact.

The comments dash the hopes of Japanese policymakers, who have said they want to avoid use of the economic dialogue as a forum to discuss a bilateral FTA that may put them under United States pressure to open up highly-protected areas like agriculture. "The TPP is a thing of the past for the United States of America".

Asked whether he had ruled out the possibility of launching a military strike against North Korea, Trump said he did not wish to reveal his plans.

The talks Tuesday did not delve into sector-by-sector issues such as auto exports.

"Whatever comes from the USA, we will cope with it".

But the meetings could indicate how forcefully the US will pressure Japan to further open its farm and automotive sectors.

For now, both sides seem eager to downplay potential for conflict.

The Japanese government intends to continue to communicate with the United States.

The US has adopted a policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea.

  • Zachary Reyes