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US sending 2 warships to Japan to counter N. Korea

TOKYO (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a two-pronged warning to Asia Pacific nations Sunday, announcing that the U.S. will send two additional ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, and saying China must better respect its neighbors.

In unusually forceful remarks about China, Hagel drew a direct line between Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region and the ongoing territorial disputes between China, Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.

"I think we're seeing some clear evidence of a lack of respect and intimidation and coercion in Europe today with what the Russians have done with Ukraine," Hagel told reporters after a meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. "We must be very careful and we must be very clear, all nations of the world, that in the 21st century this will not stand, you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation whether it's in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe."

Hagel, who will travel to China later this week, called the Asian nation a "great power," and added, "with this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power."

He said he will talk to the Chinese about having respect for their neighbors, and said, "coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict. All nations, all people deserve respect no matter how large or how small."

Still, he said he looks forward to having an honest, straightforward dialogue with the Chinese to talk about ways the two nations and their militaries can work better together.

The announcement of the deployments of additional destroyers to Japan came as tensions with North Korea spiked again, with Pyongyang continuing to threaten additional missile and nuclear tests.

In recent weeks the North has conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea says the exercises are rehearsals for invasion.

North and South Korea also fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other's waters in late March in the most recent flare-up.

Standing alongside Onodera at the defense ministry, Hagel said they discussed the threat posed by Pyongyang. He said the two ships are in response to North Korea's "pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions" that violate U.N. resolutions and also will provide more protection to the U.S. from those threats.

On Friday, North Korea accused the U.S. of being "hell-bent on regime change" and warned that any maneuvers with that intention will be viewed as a "red line" that will result in countermeasures. Pyongyang's deputy U.N. ambassador, Ri Tong Il, also said his government "made it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear test" but refused to provide details.

The two additional ships would bring the total to seven U.S. ballistic missile defense warships in Japan, and it continues U.S. efforts to increase its focus on the Asia Pacific.

The ships serve as both defensive and offensive weapons. They carry sophisticated systems that can track missile launches, and their SM-3 missiles can zero in on and take out short- to medium-range missiles that might be fired at U.S. or allied nations. They can also carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be launched from sea and hit high-value targets or enemy weapons systems from afar, without risking pilots or aircraft.

Hagel is on a 10-day trip across the Asia Pacific, and just spent three days in Hawaii meeting with Southeast Asian defense ministers, talking about efforts to improve defense and humanitarian assistance cooperation. Japan is his second stop, where he said he wants to assure Japanese leaders that the U.S. is strongly committed to protecting their country's security.

Japan and China have been engaged in a long, bitter dispute over remote islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. has said it takes no side on the question of the disputed islands' sovereignty, but it recognizes Japan's administration of them and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defense treaty.

Onodera said he and Hagel talked about the islands, known as Senkaku by Japan and Diayou by China, and the concerns about any changes to the status quo there.

Hagel said the U.S. wants the countries in the region to resolve the disputes peacefully. But he added that the United States would honor its treaty commitments.

The ships are just the latest move in America's effort to beef up Japan's defenses. Last October, the U.S. and Japan agreed to broad plans to expand their defense alliance, including the decision to position a second early warning radar there by the end of this year. There is one in northern Japan and the second one would be designed to provide better missile defense coverage in the event of a North Korean attack.

The U.S. will begin sending long-range Global Hawk surveillance drones to Japan this month for rotational deployments. They are intended to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands.

Join the discussion

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dhendr3229 April 06 2014 at 9:37 PM

Will there be "costs and sanctions" on this one as well?

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Barbara April 07 2014 at 2:51 PM

Hey tort, if things are so bad in this country why don't you try to go to N. Korea and become a citizen, (maybe you can go with Dennis Rodman). Just watch out because Kim will execute you for watching TV! In spite of our problems here you should kiss the ground you walk on in comparison to some other countries in the world.

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U2Fish4JC April 06 2014 at 10:28 AM

Our military should be SO strong that no country would even think of messing with us.

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jb3415 April 06 2014 at 6:58 PM

Cooercion and intimidation are bad....very bad....unless we are the one's doing it. After all, we only do it to promote freedom, democracy, apple pie....and all that good stuff.

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Meh... April 06 2014 at 10:41 AM

LOL...... now North Korea is using the red line.....

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molly2peaches April 06 2014 at 5:34 PM

A spit of uninhabited rock off the Taiwan coast belongs to Japan because of a US clerical error decades ago and now to back up a testosterone feud between two other countries on the other side of the world, we will back up that mistake to the last man. PAR.

In five weeks Russia will have 3 new oblasti: Lugusk, Donetsk and Kharkov.

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TERRY April 06 2014 at 4:57 PM

Get 'em! Blow that bastard in North Korea to kingdom come!

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Meh... April 06 2014 at 10:44 AM

Also, North Korea is the spoiled little brat kid of the world.... Not getting enough attention.... cry cry..... make a big stink.... yeah yeah, we know you're still there dip sticks. We don't need to see you throw a tantrum every time you are not the center of attention.

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Anthony April 06 2014 at 10:44 AM

Being a vet I have seen from the inside what the military can and can not do. Our so called allies are always secretly thinking of of ways to undermine the U.S. But as a super power if we collapse so will the rest of the world!!! The president has power, that we all know, but he is still on a need to know basis. ALL AMERICANS NEED TO BAND TOGETHER!!!!

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2 replies
Meh... Anthony April 06 2014 at 10:56 AM

AMEN brother. If people spent half the time working together towards making this country better as they do tearing each other apart and complaining about everything, we might actually be the strong superpower everyone else believes we are. You hit the nail right on the head.

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1 reply
Meh... Meh... April 06 2014 at 2:29 PM

Mickylitz2 No. In order for everyone to band together everyone must stop freaking judging everyone else and keep their noses in their own business. As long as everyone is trying to tell everyone else how to live their lives there will always be arguments. It is much easier to judge and complain than to actually let go of your petty differences and work together. Although there are a fair number of people out there who take advantage of all our government has to offer those in need, they do not represent ALL the people in need. You can't just lump everyone who needs help in with those who thrive on ******* from the system. If you separate those people out, they do NOT trump the makers.

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abeyasha Anthony April 06 2014 at 11:16 AM

Obama, guided by the occultic Hillary & Panetta, with a Military contingent paid honors to the land of his "Strange god'" even its gods, an act, amounting to selling the soul of a nation, spiritually called "trading the names for numbers," then came back & hurriedly inducted the "Sodomite Agenda" into the US. Military. Lo, The enemy is within you.

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1 reply
Meh... abeyasha April 06 2014 at 2:33 PM

Nothing you just said makes a bit of sense. The comment you are speaking on was referring to all Americans working together. Nothing you said even slightly resembles an argument, agreement, or suggested edit of that comment.

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mestranger2all April 06 2014 at 7:46 PM

What the heck is up with the nations on the other side of the world. Cant we all get along. Well pretending I cared why is it all focused so close together sort of. thank goodness we are not experiencing that this close to our home. That's right because are over whelming military might along with the most modern tech needed to defend us is doing what we expected it to but if that's true our savior and leader wouldn't cut the financing from it more likely to increase or not change it. What we are prepared for last year we could easy handle Russia's game and hold back n korea but china now that's getting to high but I know we can keep us safe at least those lucky enough to stay here in the states rather than battlefield. I am 40 and wouldn't hesitate to go there to save your children as well as mine that includes the mothers. Men of any age should be thinking what if just in case its needed you are not wrong to not go if you are over 35 and you shouldn't feel bad just telling all to think of who will keep our mothers and children safe\e

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