Japan is closely monitoring Chinese and Russian naval vessels around Japan, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said in a daily press conference, Tuesday (19/10).
Isozaki’s remarks follow Japan’s announcement a day earlier that a group of 10 naval vessels from China and Russia sailed through the strait that separates Japan’s main island and Hokkaido, an island in the north of the country.
This is the first time Japan has confirmed that Chinese and Russian naval vessels are sailing together through the Tsugaru Strait, which separates the Sea of Japan from the Pacific.
“We will continue to exercise our best control over foreign activities in the waters and airspace around Japan,” Isozaki said.
Although the strait is considered international waters, Japan’s relations with China have long been plagued by conflicting claims to a group of small islands in the East China Sea. Tokyo also has a territorial dispute with Moscow.
A spokesman for the Japanese Ministry of Defense said that so far there had been no violations in Japan’s territorial waters, and that there had been no violation of international law regarding the passage of the Chinese and Russian ships.
Russia and China held joint naval exercises in the Sea of Japan from October 14 to 17, as part of naval cooperation between the two countries. The exercise involved warships and support ships from Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
Moscow and Beijing have maintained close military and diplomatic ties in recent years at a time when their relations with the West have deteriorated. [ab/ka]