Japan expressed “extreme concern” after Chinese and Russian warships sailed close to its southern islands on Thursday, just a day before it was expected to discuss its leader. Tensions rise in Indian and Pacific Oceans At a summit with counterparts from South Korea and the United States.
Six Chinese ships, including missile destroyers, and five Russian ships, some of them destroyers, sailed between Japan’s Okinawa Island and Miyako Island before heading toward the East China Sea on Thursday, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.
This is the first time that Russian and Chinese ships have sailed together through this particular body of water. The ships did not enter the territorial waters of Japan.
The 11 warships were first spotted 280 kilometers (about 174 miles) northeast of Japan’s southernmost island of Okinotori on Tuesday morning local time, according to a Defense Ministry statement.
It added that the ships were believed to have taken part in a joint patrol in the Pacific. Most of them were previously seen sailing through the Soya Strait between Hokkaido and Sakhalin to the Sea of Okhotsk, the statement added, after conducting joint exercises in the Sea of Japan in July.
The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the joint patrol in a statement on its official Telegram channel, saying that a detachment of ships is currently operating in the waters of the East China Sea. The Russian ministry said that Chinese and Russian sailors conducted anti-submarine exercises, repelled a simulated enemy air strike, conducted rescue exercises at sea, and practiced helicopter take-off and landing on the decks of warships.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said China and Russia have repeatedly conducted joint naval and air exercises near the country in recent years, which are “clearly intended as a show of force against Japan” and are a “grave concern” for national security.
She added that Tokyo had expressed its concerns about these joint activities through diplomatic channels.
Japan’s relations with Russia have deteriorated since Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began 18 months ago. Tokyo joined its Western allies in imposing sanctions on Moscow and pledging billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Kiev.
Meanwhile, China has strengthened political and economic ties with Russia, although it remains a neutral party to the conflict and an advocate of peace.
Thursday’s incident comes ahead of the first-ever trilateral summit between the United States, Japan and South Korea, as leaders of the three countries are scheduled to meet at the US presidential retreat at Camp David on Friday. There, they are expected to agree to deepen defense, technology and economic cooperation, according to senior officials in the Biden administration.
The summit will also be a show of strength as the countries grapple with security challenges that include provocative behavior from North Korea and military maneuvers by a resurgent China.
The meeting is particularly important given the historically fraught relationship between Seoul and Tokyo, including a dispute between the two countries over forced labor by Japan during its occupation of Korea. But the two current leaders — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Korean President Yoon Sok Yul — have made efforts to work more closely together on common regional threats, even holding joint military exercises with the United States last year.
This grouping together was not well received by their Asian rivals. Earlier this year, China’s top diplomat urged Japan and South Korea to foster a sense of “strategic independence” from the West and instead cooperate with China to “revitalize Asia.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “No matter how blond your hair is, how sharp your nose is, you can never become a European or an American, and you can never become a Westerner.” “We must know where our roots lie.”
And officials are wary of a possible backlash from North Korea, too; The pariah state had previously fired missiles ahead of joint US-South Korean military exercises, and in response to trilateral talks between the US, South Korea and Japan.
Ahead of Friday’s summit, Seoul believes Pyongyang is preparing intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches and other “provocations” about the upcoming US-South Korea joint military meeting or exercise scheduled to begin next week, according to a South Korean lawmaker. Briefly by the country’s secret service.
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