US President-elect Joe Biden’s diplomacy started in earnest after his victory in the presidential election held on November 3. In his telephone talks with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on the morning of November 12, there was a noteworthy point. According to news reports, President-elect Biden assured Prime Minister Suga that in case the territories of Japan come under an armed attack, Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty, which stipulates the US’ obligation to defend the territories of Japan, will apply to the case of the Senkaku Islands. President-elect Biden’s statement is extremely important for the security of Japan.
Prior to President-elect Biden’s above-mentioned statement, the US government had already affirmed that the Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty would apply to the case of the Senkaku islands. Former US President Barack Obama made the statement to the same effect at the Japan-US Summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan on April 24, 2014, and President Donald Trump also affirmed that the treaty would cover the Senkaku Islands at the Japan-US Summit in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2017. In these summit talks, while the sovereignty and administration of Japan concerning the Senkaku Islands were clearly acknowledged by both countries, it seemed to me that each country’s respective rights and duties under the treaty had not been clarified in detail.
This President-elect Biden’s statement regarding his commitment to defend the Senkaku Islands, which belong to the Japanese territories, will surely give great encouragement and confidence to the Japanese people. Currently, China has been intruding into Japan’s territorial waters surrounding the Senkaku Islands, and expanding its hegemonic acts in the South and East China Seas. After Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the US on January 20, 2021, I expect that the President will take countermeasures to cope with Chinese unlawful acts.
In their telephone talks, Prime Minister Suga and President-elect Biden also talked about the alliance between Japan and the US, the strategy for Free and Open Indo-Pacific (from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean), and the North Korean issues. I think it was really an auspicious start for the Japan-US relationship and Prime Minister Suga’s diplomatic policy toward the US.