04 February, 2017
Japanese Minister of Defense Tomomi Inada told Mattis Friday that, acknowledging that her nation and South Korea have "a common threat" of North Korean nuclear provocations, Japan is working to strengthen the alliance despite historical mistrust. Opposition parties in South Korea are also cool to deploying the system.
Beijing-based political activist Zha Jianguo said the nuclear threat posed by North Korea is pushing Seoul closer to the United States, which is bad news for regional peace and stability.
Stephen Nagy, an associate professor of worldwide relations at Tokyo's global Christian University, says North Korea's development of an ICBM or submarine-launched ballistic missiles are a "game-changer" - but that instead of a stepped-up response to North Korea, Trump's reactions are in line with the latter days of Barack Obama's presidency.
The rhetoric has raised concerns in both Seoul and Tokyo, and in a statement this week South Korea's defence ministry said it hoped Mattis' trip would be "an opportunity for the Trump administration to maintain and strengthen U.S. commitment" to their alliance.
During the presidential campaign, Trump called on Japan and South Korea to pay more for a USA military presence that has been a fundamental aspect of US regional strategy for decades.
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Mattis warned that the USA will not tolerate North Korean aggression while meeting with Defense Minister Han Min Koo, his South Korean counterpart.
According to Reuters, the South Korean defense minister reaffirmed plans to deploy the system - known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) - later this year.
"There's a likelihood of Chinese boycott of South Korea goods or protest rallies against South Korea, caused by nationalist sentiment in China", the institute said.
Mattis quickly responded: "I want there to be no misunderstanding during the transition in Washington that we stand firmly, 100 percent shoulder to shoulder with you and the Japanese people, Mr".
Both South Korea and Japan have concerns about China, which has reportedly cooled economic and diplomatic ties with South Korea in recent months over the missile system. "Despite things not being figured out so much as far as how the Trump administration will take any new initiatives with its two north-east Asian allies, but it's meant as a signal of reassurance", he said.