TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Friday to bolster his country's defenses, calling the threat from North Korea the gravest security concern Japan has faced since World War II.
Outlining his priorities in a policy speech to parliament, Abe described North Korea's sixth nuclear test earlier this year and two missile launches that flew over Japan as a national crisis.
He promised concrete action to respond to what he called "escalating provocations" by North Korea.
"We will strengthen Japanese defense power, including missile defense capabilities, in order to protect the people's lives and peace," he said.
Japan's defense spending has increased slowly but steadily since Abe took office in 2012. The government has said it plans to buy more American missile defense systems.
Abe called on the international community to put more pressure on North Korea to persuade it to change its policies.