Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi visited the Chitose military base on the northern island of Hokkaido on Wednesday, voicing concerns over Russia’s military activity in the Far East, the Kyodo news agency reports.
“The [Russian] military activity in the Far Eastern region actively continues,” Nobuo Kishi said, giving out orders to prepare to counter any possible activity, including in cyberspace.
On Monday, the Japanese Defense Minister said that Russia was holding military drills and gathering information in the airspace around Japan.
Last week, Russia carried out large-scale military exercises near the islands of Sakhalin, Iturup and Kunashir, as well as in the waters of the Sea of Japan, involving more than 10,000 servicemen, up to 500 units of military equipment, some 32 aircraft, and about 12 vessels of the Pacific Fleet.
Earlier, Tokyo has lodged a protest with Moscow via diplomatic channels over Russia’s military drills in the waters of the Sea of Japan off the Sakhalin Island and the Southern Kuril Islands that Tokyo considers part of its Northern Territories, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Thursday.
Russia launched on Wednesday a large-scale military exercise on the islands of Sakhalin, Iturup and Kunashir, as well as in the waters of the Sea of Japan, involving more than 10,000 servicemen, up to 500 units of military equipment, some 32 aircraft, about 12 vessels of the Pacific Fleet.
“We intend to further monitor actions of the Russian military on the Northern Territories. On [June] 23, a protest was lodged via diplomatic channels over the fact that the strengthening of Russia’s military presence on the islands, including the conduct of such maneuvers, runs counter to the position of Japan,” Kato said at a press conference.
Moscow-Tokyo relations have long been complicated by the fact that they have never signed a permanent peace treaty following World War II. The main stumbling block is their dispute over a group of four islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai — referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan.