WASHINGTON : Secretary of State John Kerry vowed Friday that the United States would defend Japan against attack including over islands claimed by China as tensions boil between the Asian powers. Kerry, who announced that he would visit China on a trip starting next week, met in Washington with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and reaffirmed the 1960 treaty that commits the United States to protect its ally.

“I underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies. That includes with respect to the South China Sea,” he said, before correcting himself to say the East China Sea.