Newly appointed Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera are heading Wednesday to the United States to participate in the 2+2 negotiations with their US counterparts, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, that will be held in Washington on the following day, local media reported.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a telephone conversation, discussing the recent threats from North Korea and agreeing to hinder the country’s further missile launches.

According to the NHK broadcaster, the Japanese ministers will discuss ways to strengthen the deterrence of the US-Japan alliance amid the increased tensions around North Korea. The sides will reaffirm understanding of the importance not to provoke North Korea’s missile launch, that has been reached between Abe and US President Donald Trump during a phone call, as well as further joint steps as the international society increases its pressure on Pyongyang. The broadcaster also reported that the sides would discuss concrete deterrent measures, as well as confirm that the United States would use its military capacity, including so-called nuclear umbrella, to protect Japan.

Besides, it is expected that the ministers will also exchange opinions on Beijing’s increased activities in South China Sea and East China Sea, the broadcaster added.

Both Taro and Onodera were appointed ministers during the latest cabinet reshuffle on August 3. Following the reshuffle, Abe said that Japan was seeking to hold 2+2 negotiations with the United States with the participation of the newly appointed ministers soon.

The tensions surrounding North Korea have been high over recent months and have escalated further in past few days, as Pyongyang vowed to use any means possible to retaliate against the United States after the UN Security Council approved the new US-drafted sanctions on August 5. Trump, in turn, warned that if North Korea continued making threats or possible actions that they would be met with “fire and fury” from the United States. Following the statement, Pyongyang said it considered an attack near the Pacific island of Guam, where several US military bases are located.

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