Ahead of meetings with the leaders of the United States and Russia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walked a fine line on April 14 regarding the air strikes on Syria carried out by the United States, Britain and France.

"The Japanese government supports the resolve of the United States, Britain and France to absolutely not permit the use and proliferation of chemical weapons," Abe told reporters following a National Security Council meeting in Tokyo.

He added that the Syrian issue would be a topic for discussion when he meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in Florida on April 17-18.

However, with Abe also scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in May, he was careful about his wording regarding the bombing on Syria because Russia is strongly opposed to such military action.

While Abe expressed support for the resoluteness of the three nations against chemical weapons, he only expressed "understanding" for the military action taken.

At the National Security Council meeting, Abe also issued instructions for close cooperation with the United States, Britain and France while proceeding with intelligence analysis of the situation in Syria and the Middle East.

Although Syria will be on the agenda for the Abe-Trump meeting, the government has focused on North Korea as the main topic for the summit meeting in Florida. With Trump expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sometime before mid-June, government officials wanted to reiterate Tokyo's position of continuing with maximum pressure on Pyongyang to force it to abandon its ballistic missile and nuclear weapon development programs.

Abe is also expected to stress the importance to Japan of the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago.

Government officials are hoping that the latest bombing of Syria can be used to demonstrate to Pyongyang that Washington would not hesitate to use force if necessary.

A high-ranking Defense Ministry official said the air strikes will "send a strong message to North Korea" that the United States would take military action.

At the same time, Foreign Ministry officials were raising concerns that a worsening of relations between the United States and Russia over Syria could hamper discussions related to North Korea.

Japan also does not want to antagonize Russia before the May summit where officials are hoping for some progress on the territorial dispute with Moscow over the Northern Territories. The islands, off the coast of Hokkaido, were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II and claimed by Tokyo.