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Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 14:02
Japan's defense minister says US-ROK military drills 'vital'
By Reuters
Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 14:02 By Reuters

Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera delivers a speech during the graduation ceremony for the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture on March 18, 2018. Onodera said on June 13, 2018 the US military's presence in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and joint military exercises were "vital" for East Asian security. (KAZUHIRO NOGI / AFP)

TOKYO - Japan's defense chief said on Wednesday the US military's presence in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and joint military exercises were "vital" for East Asian security after President Donald Trump's surprise statement that he would halt war games with the ROK. 

"We would like to seek an understanding of this between Japan, the US and South Korea," Japan's Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera told reporters. 

The Republic of Korea is also referred to as South Korea. 

Onodera said Japan would continue joint military exercises with the United States and would stick to plans to bolster its defenses against a possible ballistic missile strike from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). 

His comments came after Trump's stunning concession following his historic meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on Tuesday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, meanwhile, said on Wednesday Japan is prepared to help shoulder some of the initial costs of the DPRK's denuclearization only after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) restarts inspections. 

The two leaders pledged at Tuesday's summit to move towards complete denuclearization, while the US promised its old foe security guarantees.

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