Japan and the United States are mulling a joint statement affirming that Article Five of the Japan-US Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The development will follow a meeting of the leaders of the two countries.
The article obliges the US to defend territories under Japan's administrative control.
Japan controls the islands. China and Taiwan claim them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory, in terms of history and international law. It says there is no issue of sovereignty to be resolved over them.
Chinese government vessels have repeatedly entered Japan's territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands.
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide is scheduled to visit the US capital on April 8 and to meet US President Joe Biden the following day. He will be the first foreign leader to hold an in-person meeting with Biden since the President took office in January.
Officials of the two governments are working to include references in the statement to strengthening the Japan-US alliance and close cooperation toward a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The leaders are likely to use the meeting to affirm their commitment to eliminating all North Korean ballistic missiles in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. North Korea launched ballistic missiles on Thursday.
They are also expected to discuss close cooperation on climate change.