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Secretary Tillerson to visit Japan

Saturday morning’s Nikkei front-paged a report from Washington claiming that Secretary of State Tillerson will visit Tokyo on March 17-18 for talks with Prime Minister Abe and Foreign Minister Kishida. The paper said that the primary purpose of the visit will be to discuss North Korea, speculating that Washington may possess intelligence pointing to the reclusive regime’s readiness to conduct a missile or nuclear test. The paper added that the Secretary will explain to Japanese officials the ongoing review of U.S. policy toward North Korea, which could include the use of military force or regime change. The paper said this will be the third time for the foreign ministers of Japan and the U.S. to meet in about a month. According to the daily, Secretary Tillerson will visit China and South Korea after Japan.

 

Nikkei wrote in a separate article that Secretary Tillerson has decided to make an “urgent trip” to Northeast Asia in order to enhance coordination with Japan, South Korea, and China based on the assessment that DPRK poses “the most pressing threat.” In addition to North Korea, the Secretary will discuss with Abe and Kishida plans for President Trump and Vice President Pence to visit Japan later this year. The daily predicted that the President will probably visit Japan in November when he attends the annual APEC leaders’ meeting in Vietnam.

 

Other media outlets filed similar stories, with Yomiuri saying on Sunday that Secretary Tillerson will probably arrive in Tokyo on March 16. NHK on Saturday quoted Assistant Secretary Russel as telling the network: “Without a doubt, the Secretary will want to exchange views and consult closely with Tokyo” on North Korea, although he stopped short of mentioning a specific timeframe for the Secretary’s Japan trip. Russel also explained that the Secretary will brief Japan and South Korea on the status of the White House’s ongoing review of its strategy toward North Korea.  

 

Sunday’s Mainichi said when Secretary Tillerson meets with senior Chinese officials in Beijing, he is likely to press them to ratchet up the pressure on Pyongyang so as to dissuade the defiant neighbor from continuing its missile and nuclear development.

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