US president smooths over Trump-era complaints to deepen Japan security alliance as new secretary of state rejects Beijing’s South China Sea claims

Joe Biden has vowed to strengthen the US’s alliance with Japan to counter growing Chinese military activity in the volatile Asia-Pacific region, including a commitment to defend the Senkakus, a group of islands in the East China sea administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing.

The US president and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed during a phone call that their countries’ security alliance was “the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific”.

Related: Islands on the frontline of a new global flashpoint: China v Japan

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