U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has met in Tokyo with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to work on a strong message to send to Pyongyang as North Korea threatens to test a ballistic missile.
After the talks, Kerry said the U.S. is committed to defending Japan. He added that there would be further high-level talks on a peaceful resolution of the situation on the Korean peninsula.
Kerry also said the two diplomats had made good progress on the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, including the relocation of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.
On the subject of the Senkaku Islands , which are claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo, Kerry said Washington takes no position on the sovereignty of the islands, but recognizes that Japan administrates them. He said the U.S. opposes any unilateral move to claim the disputed islands.
Kerry arrived in Tokyo on Sunday from Beijing. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Monday to discuss North Korea's weapons programs.
Japan, which is within range of North Korean missiles, has deployed its own interceptor missiles around the capital.
While in Beijing, Kerry and China's foreign policy chief, Yang Jiechi, pledged to work together to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula. The two diplomats said Saturday they support the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
Yang said China will work with the U.S. and other countries to play a key role in renewing the stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Earlier Saturday, Kerry discussed the North's atomic program and other issues with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kerry told President Xi that now is a "critical time."
North Korea has threatened to wage a nuclear war on the U.S. mainland and other American targets in the region.
South Korea says it expects the North's missile test to occur in the run-up to Monday's birthday celebration of North Korea's late founding leader Kim Il Sung.
Kerry said the U.S. Defense Department is working on the assumption that North Korea is not yet able to place a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile, despite a U.S. intelligence report suggesting it does have that capability.
Kerry is on his first visit to East Asia since becoming secretary of state, but the broader issues he hoped to address have been overshadowed by the North Korean threats.
North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests. The latest, in February, used what the North said was a "smaller and lighter" device. Late last year, it succeeded in using a long-range missile to place a satellite into orbit.