Prime Minister Abe’s official visit to the United States seems to have been successful in at least one respect: he obtained additional assurances that the U.S.-Japan security treaty covers the Senkaku Islands.
On April 28th, President Obama stated that “our treaty commitment to Japan’s security is absolute,” and that Article 5 “covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands.” The same day, John Kerry affirmed that the U.S. “[c]ommitment to Japan’s security remains ironclad and covers all territories under Japan’s administration, including the Senkaku Islands.” And the Senate passed a resolution providing that “although the United States Government does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, the United States acknowledges that they are under the administration of Japan and opposes any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine such administration.”
These statements follow a July 2014 House resolution reaffirming the House’s “unwavering commitment and support for allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region, including longstanding United States policy . . . that Article V of the United States-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty applies to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.”
That makes for four public statements from the political branches within the past year alone. The effect, of course, is that under the defense treaty the United States “recognizes that an armed attack” against Japan in the Senkakus “would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes.”