Yomiuri wrote that the U.S. is keenly interested in the latest incident in the vicinity of the Senkakus based on the assessment that Beijing may escalate its provocations. An unnamed senior Pentagon official said that the USG is aware of the circumstances and has communicated with the Japanese government. The paper projected, however, that the USG is unlikely to coordinate its response with the GOJ since it takes a neutral position on the territorial dispute, explaining that criticizing the latest Chinese passage might backfire by undermining its own narrative on freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. Mainichi ran a similar story, noting that the incident resembles a Chinese version of U.S. “freedom of navigation” operations. The paper suspected that the Chinese may have been testing whether the U.S. is really serious about supporting Japan in a Senkaku contingency.
According to NTV, DOS deputy spokesperson Toner expressed concern over the incident by telling the press on Thursday: “We are always concerned by these kinds of reports. It’s something we watch closely and will continue to consult on with the government of Japan.” In addition, the network said that while Toner reiterated the position that the U.S. will not take a position on the question of the sovereignty of the islands, he also said that the U.S. acknowledges that the islands have been under Japanese administration since 1972 and therefore fall within the scope of the U.S.-Japan security treaty.