Obama says Washington 'obliged to act' if disputed islands attacked

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and US President Barack Obama.

TOKYO - Barack Obama Thursday told a press conference in Japan that islands at the centre of a bitter territorial dispute with China are covered by a defence treaty that would oblige Washington to act if they were attacked.

"Article five (of the US-Japan security treaty) covers all territories under Japan's administration including (the) Senkaku islands," he said.

"We do not believe that they should be subject to change unilaterally, and what is a consistent part of the alliance is that the treaty covers all territories administered by Japan.

"This is not a new position. This is a consistent one." "We stand together in calling for disputes in the region, including maritime issues, to be resolved peacefully through dialogue."