Japan Protests Russia’s ‘Unacceptable Military Expansion’ on Disputed Islands

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.
March 29, 2022 Updated: March 29, 2022

Japan has lodged a protest over Russian military drills involving more than 3,000 troops on the disputed Kuril Islands, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Monday.

Matsuno objected through diplomatic channels to Moscow over the drills on the islands, which Japan refers to as the Northern Territories which Soviet troops seized at the end of World War II.

Russia’s military expansion in the Northern Territories is unacceptable as it goes against our country’s position regarding those islands,” Matsuno said reported Jiji Press.

Russia’s Interfax news agency reported the drills involved repelling a mock amphibious attack, including destroying defense aircraft carrying troops and testing skills to operate fire control systems of anti-tank guided missiles.

The agency further reported that Russia’s air defense forces conducted “measures to detect, identify and destroy aircraft of a mock enemy that would carry out an airborne assault.”

Russian military drills came as Moscow suspended peace treaty talks with Japan over Tokyo’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two countries have not signed a peace treaty due to the Kuril Islands dispute.

“The Russian Federation does not intend to continue peace treaty talks with Japan because it is impossible to discuss this fundamental document on bilateral relations with a state that holds an explicitly unfriendly position and seeks to harm the interests of our country,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on March 21.

Russia Pacific Missiles
Bastion missile launchers move to their positions on the Matua Island, part of the Kurils Islands chain, in Russia on Dec. 2, 2021 (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Japan has strongly protested Russia’s stance, saying it appeared to be an attempt to deflect responsibility for Japan-Russia relations.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan will “resolutely continue to sanction Russia” despite his government still wanting to pursue a peace treaty with Moscow.

Russia has intensified its military exercises near Japan, with four Russian amphibious warfare ships spotted sailing through northeastern Japan on March 17. Japan’s defense ministry said the Russian ships could be heading to Ukraine, reported Japan Times.

On March 11, Japan’s military said it detected 10 Russian navy ships passing through the Tsugaru Strait, between Japan’s main island of Honshu and Hokkaido prefecture.

Meanwhile, Japan has increased sanctions on Russian individuals and organizations over the war in Ukraine. The country has also restricted exports of certain goods to Russia and banned Russian banks from the SWIFT global interbank network.

Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa said at a Group of Seven (G7) meeting on March 23 that Japan has been “reviewing possible measures” to implement the revocation of Russia’s most favored nation, which will result in higher taxes on Russian goods.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Aldgra Fredly is a freelance writer based in Malaysia, covering Asia Pacific news for The Epoch Times.