Japanese government officials expressed surprise late Tuesday after the White House announced U.S. President Donald Trump had dismissed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and named Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo as his replacement.
"It's a surprise, but Japan-U.S. ties won't be shaken. Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe and Trump have a close relationship, so it's no problem," a source close to Abe said.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono had been planning a trip to the United States later this week to hold talks with Tillerson about the latest developments in North Korea.
A source close to Kono quoted him as saying he wants to go ahead with his trip as planned and has instructed his staff to make that happen.
"We can't put the North Korea issue on the back burner. It's exactly times like these that I need to visit the United States," the source quoted Kono as saying.
The personnel change comes ahead of a planned summit in the coming months between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set to be the first-ever meeting between a sitting U.S. leader and a North Korean one.
According to a Japanese government source, Trump and Tillerson are said to have been at odds with each other over how to deal with North Korea.
Pompeo "holds a stance of pushing ahead with the U.S.-North Korea summit, and his thinking is close to Trump's," the source said.