Theresa May puts pressure on China to rein in North Korea over missile tests
Theresa May has urged the Chinese government to use its influence to bring the North Korean regime to heel.
The Prime Minister spoke out as she began a three-day visit to Japan where she will meet with prime minister Shinzo Abe and have an audience with Emperor Akihito.
She is also due to address the country's national defence council and tour the warship Izumo on Thursday.
The trip has been overshadowed by the recent sabre-rattling from the North Korean regime, including the launch of a ballistic missile which flew over the Japanese island of Hokkaido earlier this week.
Speaking to reporters on the plane to the Far East, Mrs May stressed the importance of Beijing's influence.
“China has, I think, a very key role to play in terms of the pressure it can bring," she said.
"I have said this to President Xi, other have as well. We think that China has a role to play and we’d encourage China to do everything it can to bring pressure on North Korea to stop this..
“It’s about the sort of pressure and change that China can bring. I think they’re a key player in this. In terms of what we’re doing, we’re looking to work with our partners. But crucially, we see China as being the key in this.”
Along with defence issues, the future of UK-Japanese trade will also be on the agenda during the visit.
The Japanese deputy chief cabinet secretary, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said there was a "sense of crisis among businesses" due to the vote to leave the EU.
“We need to make use of Prime Minister May’s visit for conveying Japan’s stance," he told the Reuters news agency.
The Prime Minister is bringing a delegation of 15 British business leaders, along with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
However the UK will have to wait for Japan to conclude a trade deal with the EU before embarking on bilateral negotiations.
Mrs May's spokeswoman said yesterday that the Japan-EU arrangement could "provide a good basis for continuity once we leave”.
Labour's international trade spokesman, Barry Gardiner, claimed the Government was scared Japanese firms would begin leaving the UK because of Brexit.
"Whilst Theresa May is desperately trying to spin this visit as scoping out a future bilateral trade and investment agreement, the reality is that the government is spooked by the fact that Japanese banks like Nomura have already announced their intention to relocate," he said.