TOKYO: Japan has protested to Russia against the multinational military exercises, including China, that it is conducting on Russian-held islands claimed by Japan, and is seriously concerned about the shooting exercises of the warships of the two countries in the off the northern coast of Japan, an official said Monday.
Beijing is strengthening its military cooperation with Moscow and has been participating in the “Vostok 2020” multinational exercises in the Russian Far East since the end of August.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno criticized the exercises on the disputed islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, in the Kuril Range off Japan’s northernmost main island, Hokkaido. He said Japan’s Defense Ministry spotted six Russian and Chinese warships firing machine guns into the Sea of ​​Japan about 190 kilometers (118 miles) west of Cape Kamui on Hokkaido Saturday.
“Japan will continue to monitor the movements of these vessels with great concern and will take all possible measures to carry out warning and monitoring activities in the waters surrounding Japan,” Matsuno told a news conference.
China’s Ministry of National Defense said in a statement on Sunday that China had participated in air, land and naval drills as part of the drills. He said a Chinese naval tactical team has conducted joint drills with Russia in the Sea of ​​Japan, including one aimed at destroying drifting mines.
Japan has worried about rising tensions in Asia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, fearing the war will embolden China’s already assertive military activities in East Asia, particularly around Taiwan, which China claims. Japan is currently revising its national security strategy and defense guidelines to significantly enhance its military capabilities to strengthen its deterrence.
After the joint firing exercise, the warships, including a Chinese guided-missile destroyer, a frigate and a supply ship and three Russian frigates, sailed through the Soya Strait between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. The Chinese warships had passed through the Tsushima Strait in southwestern Japan on August 29, the ministry said.
Japan has repeatedly sought to regain sovereignty over the disputed islands, which Moscow seized in the closing days of World War II. The dispute prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their hostilities during World War II. Russia announced earlier this year that it had suspended peace talks with Japan in protest at Tokyo’s sanctions against Moscow for its war in Ukraine.

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