US to deploy 2 more destroyers to Japan by 2017 http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/japan-intercept-any-north-korea-missile-deemed-threat US defence secretary says destroyers are to counter the North Korean threat, and says China must respect its neighbours TOKYO â€” The United States will deploy two additional ballistic missile defence destroyers to Japan by 2017 as part of an effort to bolster protection from North Korean missile threats, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said today (April 6). Speaking to at a news conference following a meeting with Japan Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, Mr Hagel said they discussed the threat posed by Pyongyang. He said the two ships are in response to North Koreaâ€™s â€œpattern of provocative and destabilising actionsâ€ that violate United Nations resolutions and also will provide more protection to the US from those threats. In unusually forceful remarks about China, Mr Hagel called the Asian nation a â€œgreat powerâ€ and said that when he travels to China later this week he will tell its officials that they must have respect for their neighbours. Japan and China have been at odds over territorial claims and other issues. â€œWith this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that powerâ€ and how to employ military might, Mr Hagel said, adding that he looks forward to an honest, straightforward dialogue with the Chinese. The announcement of the deployments of additional destroyers to Japan came as tensions with North Korea spiked again, with Pyongyang continuing to threaten additional missile and nuclear tests. North and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells into each otherâ€™s waters in late March in the most recent flare-up. On Friday, North Korea accused the US of being â€œhell-bent on regime changeâ€ and warned that any maneuvers with that intention will be viewed as a â€œred lineâ€ that will result in countermeasures. Pyongyangâ€™s deputy UN ambassador, Ri Tong Il, also said his government â€œmade it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear testâ€ but refused to provide details. The two additional ships would bring the total to seven US ballistic missile defence warships in Japan, and it continues US efforts to increase its focus on the Asia Pacific. Mr Hagel is on a 10-day trip across the Asia Pacific, and just spent three days in Hawaii meeting with Southeast Asian defence ministers, talking about efforts to improve defence and humanitarian assistance cooperation. Japan is his second stop, where he said he wants to assure Japanese leaders that the US is strongly committed to protecting their countryâ€™s security. Japan and China have been engaged in a long, bitter dispute over remote islands in the East China Sea. The US has said it takes no side on the question of the disputed islandsâ€™ sovereignty, but it recognises Japanâ€™s administration of them and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defence treaty. Mr Hagel said the US wants the countries in the region to resolve the disputes peacefully. But he added that the United States would honour its treaty commitments.