TOKYO: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Saturday that Washington remains committed to defending Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Esper and Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono, meeting in Guam, reaffirmed that the Japan-US security treaty’s Article 5, which stipulates US defense obligations to Japan, applies to the islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
The United States opposes any unilateral act that undermines Japan’s administration, Esper said.
The two ministers agreed to enhance their countries’ cooperation with Southeast Asian and Pacific island nations through joint exercises and support for capacity building.
“I think the world has been changing drastically. Not just because of COVID-19, but because there are some attempts to change the status quo by force and coercion,” Kono said, apparently referring to China.
“Some countries are trying to apply cutting-edge technologies for military use,” he said.
Esper said, “We remain steadfast in our opposition to Beijing’s destabilizing activities in the region.”
Kono and Esper also shared concerns about China’s recent firing of four intermediate-range ballistic missiles into the South China Sea.
The ministers agreed to improve their countries’ missile defense and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance abilities to enhance their deterrence and response capabilities.