TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's defense chief welcomed on Friday the planned resumption of U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises, saying the annual drill set to start on Sunday would add pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
"It's our understanding that the exercises will be of a similar scale to past years. In order to make North Korea respond properly, they play an important role," Japan's Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said at a regular news briefing.
The one-month Foal Eagle field exercise is scheduled to begin on Sunday, with the computer-simulated Key Resolve drill to be held for two weeks starting in mid-April. Around 24,000 U.S. troops and 300,000 South Korean personnel will take part in the exercises, according to the Pentagon.
The resumption of the joint training comes after Seoul and Washington said in January they would delay the exercises because of the Winter Olympics held in South Korea in February.
(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo; Writing by Tim Kelly; Editing by Paul Tait)