WASHINGTON - The US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said on Tuesday that the article on mutual defense in the Japan-US security treaty does not apply to the disputed Kuril Islands which have recently become the spotlight in territorial spars between Russia and Japan.
Crowley repeated his stance that the United States supports Japan and recognizes Japanese sovereignty over the islands.
But he said the Article 5 of Japan-US security treaty would not apply since the disputed islands are not currently under Japanese administration.
The Article 5 of Japan-US security treaty stipulates that an armed attack against either party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be a threat to both countries.
On Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev became the first leader from Russia or the former Soviet Union to visit the disputed islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
The visit sparked furious reactions from Japan. Japan announced on Tuesday to recall its ambassador to Russia temporarily.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, showing no sign of concession, said on Tuesday that President Medvedev may visit other parts of the Kuril islands after his Monday trip to Kunashiri.
Lavrov also downplayed Japan's decision to recall its ambassador as "its internal affairs."