South Korea's President Moon Jae In and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Nov. 29 that the two nations could "no longer tolerate" the nuclear and missile provocations from North Korea.
"President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to further intensify their countries' cooperation to put stronger pressure and sanctions against North Korea, noting they can no longer tolerate North Korea's threats to security," Moon's chief press secretary said, according to Yonhap News.
The leaders expressed "concerns over North Korea's claim that its nuclear and missile development programs are in their final stages," and agreed to take steps on cracking down on the regime.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at the Prime Minister's Official Residence the Kantei, in Tokyo, Aug. 18, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
Both leaders also agreed that China must play a bigger role in containing Pyongyang.
While Moon and Abe may be determined to hit back at North Korea, there's little they can do.
South Korea fired missiles across North Korea's maritime border in the immediate aftermath of the launch on Nov. 28, but the displays of force have no track record of stopping Pyongyang's nuclear missile progress.
But Moon and Abe discussed a seemingly unrelated topic that may have an important implication for North Korea. Abe reportedly raised the possibility of attending South Korea's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.
Though Japan and South Korea are allied against North Korea, tensions remain strained among the countries due to lingering resentments from Japan's invasion of mainland Asia during World War II.
Driving a wedge between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan remains key element of North Korea's strategy.
A united South Korea and Japan could more effectively stand up to a nuclear North Korea, and a small step like Abe attending the Pyeongchang Olympics could go a long way.