A few minutes every morning is all you need.
Stay up to date on the world's Headlines and Human Stories. It's fun, it's factual, it's fluff-free.
The backstory: International concerns about North Korea developing and using nuclear weapons have grown ever since the country openly said it would use them in conflicts. In response to North Korea’s nuclear program, the US, South Korea and Japan have conducted joint military drills in the area. These are supposed to be for training in case of an actual conflict happening, but they’re also meant as a deterrent for the North.
But North Korea sees these drills as practice for an invasion, so it’s really ramped up its missile testing in the past year. The country’s held around 100 missile drills since last year – and a lot of those weapons have the ability to reach South Korea, Japan and even potentially the US.
More recently: North Korean state media said on Monday that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, had ordered a big increase in the production of missiles and other weapons after an announcement by South Korea and the US that they’d be holding joint military exercises next week. He’s also been touring the country’s weapons factories. In March, Kim revealed some nuclear warheads in person for the first time, releasing photo evidence of the Hwasan-31, its first nuclear warhead ever made public.
The US has official defense agreements independently with South Korea and Japan, but it wants to improve the trilateral cooperation among the three countries as a defense against North Korean aggression and a counter to China’s influence in the region. There have been historical tensions between South Korea and Japan over the forced labor of Koreans during Japan’s colonial rule of the country, but ever since President Yoon came into office last May, he’s tried to mend fences between the two and strengthen their relationship.
The development: The US, South Korea and Japan are planning to officially meet at a summit at Camp David in the US on Friday, where they are expected to announce even more military cooperation on ballistic missile defenses and tech development. US President Biden will host South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the one-day meeting, and it’ll be the first time the leaders have specifically met for a trilateral summit. They’ve held similar talks before, but it’s always been on the sidelines of other international meetings.
In a speech given on Tuesday, marking the anniversary of South Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule, President Yoon said that improved ties with Japan were important and that the Friday summit between the three countries “will set a new milestone in trilateral cooperation” to stabilize the region.
“As partners that cooperate on security and the economy, South Korea and Japan will be able to jointly contribute to peace and prosperity across the globe while collaborating and exchanging in a future-oriented manner,” South Korean President Yoon said at a speech marking the anniversary of South Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.
"Korea and Japan are now partners who share universal values and pursue common interests," Yoon said in the speech.
“You’ll see some very concrete measures that we’re taking to enhance our capacity to provide for our security in three countries, and also more broadly, security in the Indo-Pacific region,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the summit.
“China opposes relevant countries forming various cliques and their practices of exacerbating confrontation and jeopardizing other countries’ strategic security,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a briefing on Tuesday. “We hope the countries concerned will go with the trend of the times and do something conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity.”
North Korean state media KCNA quoted Kim Jong Un as saying North Korea must have “an overwhelming military force and get fully prepared for coping with any war” with the power to “surely annihilate” its enemies.