Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official visit to Asia began with a stop in Japan.

“Our longstanding alliance is devoted to peace, prosperity and freedom in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tillerson, the top diplomat of the United States, said at a joint March 16 press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo.

Tillerson also was scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later that day to discuss ongoing security and economic interests between the two countries.

“We have deep, deep economic ties, and we’ll keep working together to sustain and strengthen a relationship that is fair for both of our countries,” Tillerson said.

Kishida said he and Tillerson were “very frank, and we were in sync” during their meeting, and that he expected to “deepen our discussion on the regional circumstances, including the economic aspects” later that day.

The trip follows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the United States to meet with President Trump in February. At that time, Trump said, “The bond between our two nations, and the friendship between our two peoples, runs very, very deep.”

The United States has maintained strong ties with Japan since the end of World War II.

Japan is the United States’ fourth largest trading partner, and Japanese firms employ more than 839,000 people in the United States. Additionally, Japan is home to more than 50,000 U.S. troops and another 50,000 U.S. civilians and family members.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis also traveled to East Asia earlier this year in his first official trip as secretary of defense, with stops in South Korea and Japan.

After Japan, Tillerson will travel to South Korea on March 17 and finish his trip with a visit to China the following day.



School books, pencils and calculator (Shutterstock)
Beyond diplomacy: Ties in the classroom
More than 19,000 Japanese students came to study in the U.S. last year.
Nearly 6,000 Americans studied in Japan in 2015.