US and Japan Commence Largest-Ever Joint Military Exercise as South Korea Threatens North with Air Strikes

Japan and the US began their biggest-ever joint military exercise today, as South Korea warned it would carry out air strikes against North Korea if the regime repeated its attack on Yeonpyeong.

Kim Kwan-jin, expected to be named Seoul's new defence minister at the weekend, said any provocation from the North would be met with immediate retaliation. "In case the enemy attacks our territory and people again, we will thoroughly retaliate to ensure that the enemy cannot provoke again," he said.

Seoul has vowed to use its jet fighters to strike North Korea if it attacks again, making its strongest threat to hit targets in the country for several years.

South Korea’s government has faced severe criticism for its weak retaliation after the Pyongyang’s bombardment of a South Korean island last week in which four people were killed. Kim Tae-young, the outgoing defence minister, said the government had not hit back with F-15s and F-16s through fear of triggering a full war.