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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

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Velocity105 April 06 2014 at 3:51 PM

Hellllooooo?? The chinese situation with Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia and the Koreas was going on LONG before Putin's aggressions. Wake up Hagel.

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lalalexm1 April 06 2014 at 3:20 PM

Here we go.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
carnut122 April 06 2014 at 10:17 AM

"....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." Good thing the US would never do that (sarcasm).

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Joe Baricev carnut122 April 06 2014 at 10:39 AM

You are right..US invaded and took Texas from Mexico and the rest of the country from the Native Indians!
That is now called "Naked Aggression" we called it "Manefest Destiny"!

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bjredmond64 April 06 2014 at 10:10 AM

wars and rumors of war......

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b2ran April 06 2014 at 11:18 AM

Oh, how eager we are to help the World by sending two more ships to Japan That's okay I guess, but why are we the ones tht always have to come to the rest of the World's defense first? The ones that we came to their defense some 70+ years ago, just sit back and watch. They will probably come out with criticism too.

Now let me get ths straight. We're commiting two vessels of our Navy and were ready to jump into the Ukraine, but are supposed to reduce our Military to numbers below pre-WWII levels. Won't we need the current levels to continue to be the World;s police force? Are are we just going to nuke them in the future? After all, they say these ships are ballistic missile destroyers.

Now on China, you're damn right they are "great power" . Always have been and will always be, I guess.

Hhagel better walk on egg shells when he gets there and not try bullying them. They might just call in the loans, cut us off from all the exports to the US. Our stores might wind up empty. Who will make our American Flags then? Betsy Ross has been gone for a long time.

Oh, what a wonderful world we live in and what great leaders we have.

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2 replies
goodgrief61945 b2ran April 06 2014 at 11:35 AM

If they "cut us off from all the exports", their economy tanks. Ain't gonna happen.

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rodshiley71 b2ran April 06 2014 at 11:46 AM

If China ceased to export, half of WalMart and Sam's Club would be empty shelves. Therefore, the Walton family would buy off MORE politicians to make sure this does not happen.

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daradams April 06 2014 at 8:57 PM

We don't have ONE TANK in Europe.. think on that awhile... leading from behind is not working...

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bushpc April 06 2014 at 9:00 PM

Am I the only one that has read about the Nazi invasion of Austria. Hitler's excuse: we are protected Germans who are under threat in that country. Sig Hiel Herr Putin.

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5 replies
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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moody2night April 06 2014 at 9:21 PM

Lets finish what we promised barry I hope this changes we don't need any wars k

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eurostyl164 April 06 2014 at 11:59 AM

How about removing the kid gloves off Germany and Japan and let them beef up their own military power so they can handle situations better with out the US always having to step in. Those were once 2 of the most powerful nations in the world and since WW2 they have been limited to having a defensive military only, yet the whole world craves German bult military equipment :)

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