Biden says US-Japan defence treaty applies to disputed Senkaku Islands

Biden says US-Japan defence treaty applies to disputed Senkaku Islands

Early signal to allies that US president-elect is planning a hard line against Beijing

Joe Biden has declared that US security guarantees apply to Japan’s administration of the disputed Senkaku Islands, in the president-elect’s first significant foreign policy move related to China.

Yoshihide Suga, Japanese prime minister, said Mr Biden made the pledge in a 15-minute conversation on Thursday morning local time.

“President-elect Biden gave me a commitment that Article 5 of the US-Japan security treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands,” said Mr Suga.

The statement is an early signal that Mr Biden intends to work with US allies to push back against China, although he stopped short of making a direct public comment.

In a summary of the call provided to the media, the Biden transition team said the president-elect had “underscored his deep commitment to the defence of Japan and US commitments under Article V” but did not refer specifically to the Senkaku. A transition team spokesperson declined to comment beyond the content of the summary.