All national dailies said the GOJ was surprised by the departure of Secretary Tillerson especially because arrangements had been made for Foreign Minister Kono to visit Washington later this week to discuss with him North Korea. Claiming that the State Department has lost influence under the Trump administration since the White House has taken the diplomatic initiative, Yomiuri quoted a GOJ source as saying: “Secretary Tillerson’s resignation will have little impact on U.S.-Japan relations and the response to North Korea. The U.S.-Japan alliance is ironclad since Prime Minister Abe and President Trump have established a strong relationship of trust.”
According to the national dailies, Kono still plans to travel to the U.S. and is hoping to hold talks with Defense Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor McMaster so as to align the two nations’ approaches toward North Korea ahead of the upcoming inter-Korean and U.S.-DPRK summits. Asahi said Kono will probably also try to hold talks with Pompeo. Mainichi conjectured that the GOJ will be watching carefully for any change in the power dynamics within the Trump administration’s diplomatic and security teams. Sankei, the smallest of the national dailies, claimed that the Abe administration is perplexed by Tillerson’s dismissal and voiced concern that it may affect a proposed trilateral foreign ministerial meeting with South Korea in the U.S. capital this week.