Will the allies keep it low-key, or focus on projecting strength?
Indeed, in my view, the danger that North Korea would launch a nuclear first strike against the United States or its allies-Japan or South Korea-is relatively small.
The four ministers also discussed China and how it could cooperate in dealing with North Korea. So far the US and South Korea have rejected this idea.
People from Los Angeles and San Francisco are calling me and asking: "Should we be getting our families out of the city?"
The Trump administration seems to believe that even North Korea's ability to reliably hit the United States with nuclear weapons is so unsafe that it must prevent that from happening. After this year's exercise concludes, the USA will most certainly be keeping a close eye on what the regime chooses to do.
In air conditioned bunkers and at military bases across South Korea, it is with keyboards - not tanks - that South Korean and the U.S. forces will launch military exercises on Monday, denounced by North Korea as a rehearsal for war. "We have confirmed the importance of cooperation through the security treaty", he said.
The two secretaries now look to China, North Korea's only ally.
As his people starve in gulags, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un is renowned for his extravagant and luxurious lifestyle. Shortly after the drills, the North carried out its fifth and biggest nuclear test, which it claimed was of a "standardized" warhead that could fit on a variety of its rockets. He was responding to a question about how the US should deal with ballistic missile launches by the regime.
It's nearly certain that this year's drills will trigger some kind of reaction from North Korea.
"In light of the threat of North Korea, the four of us confirmed the importance of the unwavering USA commitment to extended deterrence", Onodera said.
The latest example of such American thinking became manifest in the op-ed piece that Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of States Rex Tillerson wrote for the Wall Street Journal on August 13, 2017.
But North Korean media reported on Tuesday that Kim delayed the decision while he waited to see what the United States did next, prompting Trump to praise Kim's "wise" decision.
US President Donald Trump warned that North Korea would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States. "It's to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to protect ROK", a United States military spokeswoman, Michelle Thomas, said, referring to South Korea by the initials of its official name, the Republic of Korea.
"Smart military planning means ensuring that exercises do not enflame an already tense situation", Wright said.
Also in his speech, Moon said South Korea should play a leading role in the nuclear issue in the peninsula.
"And that's very, very important for deterrence", added Dunford, who visited South Korea and China before arriving in Japan.
"In the event of a missile launch toward the territory of Japan, Guam, the United States, South Korea, we would take immediate, specific actions to take it down", he said.
Some conservatives want more strength, however, and are calling for the United States to bring back the tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn from the South in the 1990s.