Biden Slams China Territorial Claims, Reassures Japan on Defense of Disputed Islands

Date: 2021-01-28 09:55:23

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U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday, offering his administration’s commitment to protecting the Senkaku Islands, a group of uninhabited islets administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing, the White House said.

Biden has previously expressed a commitment to the 1960 Japan-U.S. security treaty that covers the Senkaku Islands.

The islands have recently become the subject of growing anxiety in Japan after China last week passed legislation authorising coast guard ships to use weapons against foreign ships deemed to be involved in illegal activities around the islets in the East China Sea.

The two leaders also spoke about other shared security concerns involving China as well as North Korea.

Suga said Thursday that “it was a very good meeting”, and that he would like to strengthen the Japan-US alliance further.

The call was one of several between Biden and foreign counterparts since he was inaugurated last week.

He has also held initial talks with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and others in recent days.

However, the two leaders did not discuss the Olympics, which were supposed to be held last summer but were postponed until this coming July because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are growing concerns about whether the games can be safely carried out as the virus continues to kill thousands each day around the globe and nations struggle to ramp up the distribution of vaccines to the public.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Wednesday pushed back against suggestions that the body could move the games to another city or again postpone the start of the quadrennial event.

“We are fully concentrated on the Opening Ceremony on July 23rd, 2021,” he said.

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