North Korea denounced the U.S., South Korea and Japan for “reckless moves” to create a military alliance that threatens peace in North Asia.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is getting tenser as the days go by and the danger of a war is increasing hour by hour,” the state-run Korea Central News Agency reported, citing a commentary in the Rodong newspaper yesterday. ‘The U.S. is giving spurs to an arms buildup and preparations for a war.”
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have increased since North Korea’s Nov. 23 shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island that killed two soldiers and two civilians. South Korea’s new defense minister Kim Kwan Jin two days ago vowed retaliation that would include airstrikes if North Korea made another attack.
The U.S. sent the USS George Washington to join South Korean naval forces in an exercise in the Yellow Sea at the end of November and the aircraft carrier is now taking part in drills with Japan involving about 400 aircraft and 60 warships. More than 40,000 Japanese and U.S. military personnel began a weeklong exercise on Dec. 3.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and South Korean counterpart Kim Sung Hwan tomorrow to discuss regional security.
“Just as the U.S. has NATO in Europe, it is in the process of establishing a war structure of an ‘anti-Communist crusade’ called the U.S.-Japan-South Korea tripartite military alliance in Northeast Asia,” KCNA cited the Rodong commentary as saying. Joint actions such as defense studies and military exercises have become frequent between the three nations, it said.
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Japan and the United States will hold their biggest ever joint military drills just days after a US and South Korean show of force amid tensions on the Korean peninsula, officials said Thursday.
The previously announced "Keen Sword" drills, which were planned before North Korea’s artillery barrage of a South Korean island last week, will take place from Friday to December 10, a US military official confirmed.
"Keen Sword will cap the 50th anniversary of the Japan-US alliance as an ‘alliance of equals’," Major William Vause, chief of operational plans, training and exercises said in a statement.
"It is the largest bilateral exercise between the United States and Japan military forces."
To demonstrate solidarity with Seoul, the Pacific allies will for the first time invite South Korean military officers to observe the drills, Japanese officials said.
"It turns out to be good timing to show the bond between Japan and the United States," a senior Japanese defence ministry official told the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, with the drill following US-South Korea exercises that ended Wednesday.
Around 34,000 Japanese military personnel with 40 warships and 250 aircraft will join more than 10,000 US counterparts with 20 warships and 150 aircraft in the drill in Japanese waters off its southern islands, close to the southern coast of South Korea.
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Japans stock market is hoping for a strong US shopping season to set the tone for the coming week, amid continued concern about the eurozone and its single currency, analysts say.They added on Friday that heightened tensions between the two Koreas has not directly harmed the Tokyo bourse, although the situation poses risks to the region.Daiwa Securities said the dollars continued relative strength — possibly supported by an expected strong US shopping season — could boost the Nikkei index.Further weakening of the yen against the dollar can increase the possibility of the Nikkei climbing higher, it said in a note to clients.The US dollar crawled up to 83.78 yen on Friday afternoon from 83.38 yen a week earlier thanks to a series of bright US economic releases.
Read the rest of the story: Japan hopes for big US shopping season | Finance | BigPond News.