UK stands ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with Japan in face of North Korea threat

Britain stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Japan in the face of the increased threat from North Korea, Theresa May has said.

Number 10 said the Prime Minister and her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will “explore” fresh sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime in a second day of talks on Thursday.

Mrs May earlier called on China to step up its action against North Korea and refused to rule out Britain getting involved in military action to stop the rogue state’s illegal weapons programme.

Downing Street said the length of time the PM had spent with Mr Abe on the first day of three-day visit was “unusual” and demonstrated the “strength and continuing positive relationship” between the two.

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The pair met at the Omotesenke tea house in Kyoto, where the tea-making ceremony dates back to Sen no Rikyu, the 16th century founder of the tradition.

Mrs May, who was wearing a red dress and white jacket – the colours of the Japanese flag – removed her leopard print pumps before emerging from the back of the tea house side by side with Mr Abe, who pointed out moss in the garden.

“Very attractive, very calm,” the PM said.

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Flanked by interpreters, the leaders sat on a low bench behind the table while the master of ceremonies and his two assistants sat on the floor on the other side of the room.

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Before getting on a high-speed bullet train to Tokyo, Mrs May and Mr Abe enjoyed a banquet that included “salted entrails of the sea cucumber”.

Talks over the course of the day focused on North Korea, which on Tuesday fired a missile over Japan, but Brexit was also touched upon.

Critics back home have accused the PM of pursuing a “cut and paste” Brexit after saying she wanted to use the trade deal being finalised between the EU and Japan as the starting point for a future agreement with Britain.

Mrs May is expected to use the trip to reiterate the UK’s commitment to a swift conclusion of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

She will also seek agreement from Mr Abe that the UK and Japan should work to ensure that this deal can form the basis of a bilateral arrangement “quickly after Brexit.”

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