TOKYO—Japan has protested to Russia over multilateral military exercises being held on islands claimed by Japan as Russian territory, and has been seriously concerned about Russian and Chinese warships conducting fire drills off Japan’s northern coast. They are concerned, officials said Monday.
Beijing has stepped up military cooperation with Moscow and has been participating in the multinational “Vostok 2020” exercise since late August in many locations in the Russian Far East.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has criticized Russia for conducting exercises on two of the four disputed islands Japan calls the Northern Territories. It was not clear whether China participated in the exercises on the disputed islands.
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 in Hokkaido on Saturday.
“Japan will continue to monitor the movements of these vessels with serious concern and will take all possible measures to conduct surveillance activities in the waters surrounding Japan,” Matsuno said at a press conference.
China’s defense ministry said in a statement on Sunday that China participated in air, ground and sea exercises as part of the exercises. A Chinese Navy tactical team said it had conducted joint exercises with Russia in the Sea of Japan, including one aimed at destroying drifting mines.
Japan has expressed concern over rising tensions in Asia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and that the war has fueled the Beijing regime’s already aggressive military activities in East Asia, particularly around autonomous Taiwan. Japan is currently revising its National Security Strategy and Defense Guidelines to significantly increase its military capabilities to strengthen deterrence.
After a joint shooting exercise, the warships, including a Chinese guided-missile destroyer, a frigate and supply ship, and three Russian frigates, crossed the Soya Strait between Japan’s Honshu and Hokkaido. According to the ministry, the Chinese warship She crossed the Tsushima Strait in southwestern Japan on August 29.
Japan has repeatedly called for the restoration of sovereignty over the disputed islands seized by Moscow at the end of World War II. The conflict has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty that would formally end hostilities in World War II. He announced that he had protested Tokyo’s sanctions against Moscow.