Abe, Ratas agree to step up pressure on N.Korea

Abe, Ratas agree to step up pressure on N.Korea

Abe, Ratas agree to step up pressure on N.Korea

This is the first time for an incumbent Japanese prime minister to visit these countries, while Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid a visit to Estonia in May 2007.

Japan's prime minister has kicked off a five-day European tour that will take him to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania.

Mr Abe told reporters that he and Mr Ratas had agreed that they "would not accept nuclear armament of North Korea, and that it was necessary to maximise pressure on North Korea".

Serbia is in talks to join the 28-member bloc, while the remaining five countries being covered in his trip are European Union members, according to Japan's Foreign Ministry. Though tensions have eased somewhat due to the approaching Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, he wanted the worldwide community to continue putting "maximum pressure" on North Korea in matters concerning the country's nuclear and missile programs, Abe told journalists before leaving on his trip.

Representatives from more than 30 companies would accompany Abe to develop business ties in the region.

With Estonia, Japan aims to strengthen cooperation on cybersecurity as the Baltic country is known for its advanced information technology.

Officials noticed the panel was missing from the Boeing 747, one of two jetliners used by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for foreign trips, after it flew from Tokyo to its base on the northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday, a spokesman for the Japan Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) said.

Abe will travel to Latvia on Saturday to meet Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and then visit Lithuania.

A panel the size of a laptop computer fell off one of the Japanese prime minister's jumbo jets, the defence force said on Friday, a potentially embarrassing mishap amid concern over the dangers posed by parts falling off U.S. military aircraft based in Japan.

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