Japan’s Defense Ministry said it had alerted its fighter jets after they detected Russian military aircraft over the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan on Thursday.
The ministry stated that it had spotted a Russian IL-20 intelligence-collecting plane flying back and forth from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Pacific Ocean, and another plane of the same type flying towards the waters near Sado Island.
It is noteworthy that, since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Japan has imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian entities and individuals and promised to gradually end imports of Russian oil and coal.
Tokyo has also provided Kiev with military equipment, including reconnaissance drones, and may eventually lift its ban on providing lethal weapons to foreign countries.
And Russia announced last January that it would not hold annual talks with Japan on renewing an agreement allowing Japanese fishermen to work near the disputed islands between the two sides, saying that Japan was taking anti-Russian measures.
The four disputed Kuril Islands in the Pacific Ocean are the title of an old conflict between Moscow and Tokyo. Both countries claim that they are an extension of their country’s borders. Russia calls them the “Kurils”, while Japan calls them the “Northern Islands”.
And the Ukraine war came to pour more oil on the conflict, with Tokyo’s explicit declaration of its support for the pro-Ukrainian camp against Russia.
In turn, the Kremlin claims that Tokyo simply succumbed to Washington’s pressure and became a vassal of the United States at the expense of Japan’s national interest.
relationship with China
It is noteworthy that Japan’s policy towards Russia has always been shaped by its relations with China, which Tokyo considers the main threat to its security.
After the annexation of Crimea in 2014, then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe resisted Western calls to impose serious sanctions on Russia on the grounds that an isolated Moscow would grow closer to Beijing.
But now, on the contrary, the Japanese government believes that a stern response is needed as a warning to others.