Russia Ups Pressure on Japan by Joining China in Joint Naval Exercise Near Disputed Islands

A Russian Navy frigate. (File photo: Russia Defense Ministry)

A Russian Navy frigate. (File photo: Russia Defense Ministry)

Moscow ( – Amid tensions around Ukraine, Russia is stepping up its strain on Japan by keeping a series of joint military exercise routines with China around Japanese territorial waters and airspace, as effectively as seizing manage of a vital gas job.

On Monday, Japan’s defense ministry said it experienced noticed Chinese and Russian warships sailing “just outdoors of Japanese territorial waters” all over the disputed Senkaku islands. It reported a Russian frigate entered the contiguous zone close to the islands at about 7 AM regional time, and was joined by a Chinese frigate 40 minutes later on.

Tokyo lodged a official protest with Beijing, with deputy main cabinet secretary Seiji Kihara telling reporters the govt would “deal with the make any difference calmly, but firmly to defend the Japanese land, territorial waters and airspace.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian downplayed the incident, on the other hand, telling a briefing the same day that “the things to do of Chinese vessels in the adjacent waters are authentic and lawful.”

The Senkaku islands (recognized in China as the Diaoyu islands) in the East Cahina Sea are at the heart of a a long time-extended territorial dispute between Tokyo and Beijing. Japan has administered the islands considering that 1895, but China asserts ownership relationship back again to the 14th century.

Despite the fact that the islands them selves are uninhabited, they have strategic value thanks to their close proximity to opportunity oil and gas reserves, fishing grounds, and delivery routes.

(Throughout the Obama administration the U.S. government manufactured obvious that considering that the Senkaku islands are administered by Japan,  the U.S. considers them as slipping inside the scope of the U.S.-Japan mutual defense treaty.)

Russia’s participation in a drill in the vicinity of the disputed islands arrives amid increasing tensions with Japan about the Ukraine conflict. Japan’s participation in Western-led sanctions in opposition to Moscow saw it added to the Kremlin’s list of “unfriendly nations around the world.” Russia also suspended a longstanding fishing settlement with Japan.

Around the past thirty day period and a fifty percent, Russia and China have enhanced their joint military pursuits in the area.

On Might 24, Russia and China flew a 13-hour joint bomber patrol over the Sea of Japan and East China Sea, though President Biden was visiting Tokyo for a summit of the Asia-Pacific Quad. The aircraft passed by means of Japan and South Korea’s air defense zones, prompting both of those international locations to scramble their jets.

Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, former main of team of Japan’s Air Self-Protection Pressure, told Nikkei Asia at the time the joint patrol shown that army cooperation involving Russia and China was getting to be much more advanced.

China’s condition mouthpiece Worldwide Periods explained the workout demonstrated “a superior stage of army cooperation concerning the two big powers that contributes to peace and steadiness in the region and the globe at a time when both international locations are dealing with stern, provocative pressure from the US and the West.”

Then in mid-June, Japan’s protection ministry described four Chinese warships sailing close to Japan’s Honshu and Hokkaido islands. Various times later on, a flotilla of seven Russian warships ended up witnessed finishing a circuit all around Honshu.

“The truth that about 10 Russian and Chinese ships sail all around Japan on the identical route in a brief interval of time is a show of the armed service existence of equally international locations around Japan,” Japan’s Defense Minister Nobou Kishi advised a press meeting on June 22.

Holding joint navy physical exercises with China is not the only way Russia has moved to boost its pressure on Japan.

Last Thursday, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering the Sakhalin-2 gasoline venture in Russia’s Much East – in which Japan is a big investor and beneficiary – to be transferred to a new domestic operator.

International investors in Sakhalin-2 will have one thirty day period to ask the government to keep their present shares in the task. Those people who opt out or whose apps are rejected by the govt will see their shares nationalized.

Japanese investing homes Mitsui and Mitsubishi own a collective stake of 22.5 p.c in Sakhalin-2. No much less appreciably, about 10 % of Japan’s complete Liquefied Natural Gasoline (LNG) imports appear from the undertaking.

Final March, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed lawmakers that in spite of tensions with Russia more than Ukraine, Japan could not manage to withdraw from Sakhalin-2, which he stated “contributes to the steady offer of lengthy-term, very low-value liquefied organic fuel.”

Mitsui CEO Takeshi Hashimoto built a similar argument on Sunday, telling the Financial Occasions that Japan did not have a lot of practical options for reducing LNG from Sakhalin-2.

“We simply cannot use a lot of nuclear electrical power vegetation, so the energy industry’s source and demand harmony is very tight,” he explained. “Nowadays, the LNG and coal place marketplace is fairly high-priced. This is 1 of the reasons why Japan is so unwilling to halt LNG imports from Russia.”