All national dailies reported on Secretary of Defense Mattis’s visit on Thursday to Seoul where he held talks with his ROK counterpart Song. The papers wrote that the Secretary reportedly told the South Korean defense chief that the United States is firmly committed to the defense of South Korea including maintaining the current scale and levels of U.S. forces in the nation. Asahi interpreted this remark as a dismissal of the idea of reducing the U.S. forces in South Korea. Nikkei asserted that the Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the Korean Peninsula and tried to dispel Japanese and South Korean concerns that the suspension of joint U.S.-ROK military exercises will result in a drawdown in U.S. forces in South Korea. Sankei speculated that the Secretary made this remark out of consideration for South Korea, which is concerned that the suspension of joint exercises could weaken deterrence against North Korea.
The papers also wrote that the Secretary reportedly stated that the United States will make efforts to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.