President Biden told Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a phone call on Monday that the US would defend the Senkaku Islands in the event of a Chinese attack.
The Senkakus, known as the Diayous in China, are a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea. They are currently controlled by Japan and are also claimed by China and Taiwan.
In a statement on the call, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said that Biden had “reaffirmed the US’s unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan including the application of Article V of the Japan-US Security Treaty to the Senkaku Islands.”
Article V is the section of the US-Japan Security Treaty that outlines the mutual defense agreement between the two countries. Kishida told reporters on Tuesday that President Biden had given “strong remarks on the US commitment to defend Japan, including Article V.”
The Senkaku Islands have turned into a potential flashpoint for a conflict between the US and China since the Obama administration when the US first affirmed it would come to Japan’s defense if the islands were attacked. The Biden administration first made the pledge that it would defend the Senkakus to Japan back in January when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin first spoke with his Japanese counterpart.
Kishida said that he and Biden agreed to work together on “challenges facing neighboring regions such as China and North Korea.” The Japanese leader said he wants to strengthen military ties with the US as well as other “democracies” in Asia and Europe.