Obama pledges Japan islands support as Asian tour begins
US President Barack Obama has assured Japan that islands at the centre of its territorial dispute with China are covered by a bilateral defence treaty.
In an interview ahead of his Asian tour, Mr Obama said the US would oppose any attempt to undermine Japan’s control over the islands.
US officials have made such comments in the past, but this is the first time Mr Obama has given such explicit support.
He arrived in Japan on Wednesday ahead of stops in three other Asian nations.
China’s foreign ministry has said it opposes the islands being covered by the defence treaty.
“The so-called US-Japan alliance is a bilateral arrangement from the Cold War and ought not to harm China’s territorial sovereignty and reasonable rights,” spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing during a regular press briefing.