At a time of growing tensions in Asia, Tillerson said that the United States needs a different approach to North Korea's escalating nuclear threat, though he declined to elaborate what such a different approach will entail.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo after meeting Japan's Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida, Tillerson said that diplomatic and other efforts in the last twenty years to convince North Korea to quit its nuclear ambitions have failed.
He noted that during those 20 years, the United States had provided $1.35 billion in assistance to North Korea, to encourage Pyongyang to discontinue its nuclear program.
"Part of the purpose of my visit in the region is to exchange views on a new approach (on the North Korea issue," Tillerson said, adding he would touch on the subject in Seoul and Beijing, the next stops on his trip.
North Korea has launched ballistic missiles twice in three weeks and has said that it is close to testing a missile could reach the United States mainland.
On the eve of US President Donald Trump sending a federal budget to Congress that proposes a twenty-nine percent cut in the State Department's budget, Tillerson that he will willingly take on the challenges of the cutback.
Tillerson said that the level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking is unsustainable, adding that the current spending reflected the number of conflicts that the United States has been involved in around the world, as well as disaster assistance.