Dec. 24 (UPI) -- North Korea denounced Japan's defense minister and called Tokyo a "political dwarf" following comments from Minister Taro Kono regarding missiles.
In a statement published to KCNA on Tuesday, North Korea said Japanese charges of "threats" and "provocations" are "futile acts."
Pyongyang also described the Japanese condemnations of North Korea's weapons program as the "buzzing of a mayfly on a summer's night."
"Japan's unscrupulous and perplexing behavior only highlights the pathetic existence of a political dwarf," North Korea said.
On Saturday Kono inspected an Izumo-class destroyer, one of two in Japan, according to Jiji Press.
During the inspection, Kono lectured the crew on North Korea's ballistic missile launches and Chinese ships intruding into Japan-claimed waters.
"Under the severe security environment, your duty is becoming significantly more important, and the expectations of the people are growing much larger," he said.
Kono may also have described North Korea's short-range missile launches as a "serious and urgent threat," according to South Korean news service Newsis.
Kono "again ranted about 'imminent threat from North Korea' aboard the escort warship Izumo re-modeled into an aircraft carrier. This stems from his deep-seated hostility toward the DPRK," KCNA said, according to Yonhap on Tuesday.
In 2017, intermediate-range North Korean missiles flew over Japanese territory. Tokyo stepped up evacuation drills for civilians following the provocations.
On Tuesday in the Chinese city of Chengdu, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a rare summit involving ministers of both sides, South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.
Abe told Moon it is "very important" for Japan, the United States and South Korea to coordinate on North Korea and "other security issues," according to the report.
CNN reported over the weekend recent satellite images indicate North Korea has added more construction at a production site for long-range missiles in Pyongsong. North Korea has warned the United States of a "year-end deadline" while rejecting talks.