US vows 'unwavering commitment' to Japan

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The US has promised an "unwavering commitment" to defending Japan, including southern islets claimed by China, Tokyo's new foreign minister says.

Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Saturday that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had assured him in a phone call the United States remains committed to supporting one of their key allies in the region.

Japan's ties with China have been plagued by a territorial dispute over a group of Japanese-administered islands in the East China Sea - known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China - as well as the legacy of Japan's past military aggression.

"Secretary Blinken stated that US commitment to defending Japan, including the application of Article 5 of the Japan-US Security Treaty for the Senkaku islands, was unwavering," Hayashi told reporters.

The treaty says each party recognises an armed attack on territories under Japan's administration would be dangerous to its peace and safety, and it would act to meet the common danger.

Hayashi said he and Blinken shared the view that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait was crucial.

Cross-strait tensions have been rising in recent months, with Taiwan complaining for a year or more of repeated missions by China's air force near the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.

Hayashi and Blinken strongly opposed China's unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas, and agreed on close co-operation between the allies in responding to issues regarding China, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.

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