Govt to boost monitoring of Russian military activities around Japan

Russian military activities have increased around Japan since Tokyo and Western countries imposed sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.

The Japanese government is boosting its monitoring of Russia’s activities, which it believes are in retaliation for the sanctions and are likely to continue.

At a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “We strongly condemn Russia’s acts of violence and are taking severe measures,” referring to economic sanctions.

Japan has moved in step with its fellow Group of Seven members on the measures, including freezing the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and implementing export controls on semiconductors.

A law was enacted in Russia on March 9 to establish special tax-free zones to encourage foreign businesses to operate in the northern territories.

The law provides a partial or full reduction of corporate tax and other levies for 20 years for companies that operate in the northern territories and the Chishima archipelago, called the Kuril Islands in Russia.

The move is believed to be in response to Japan’s strengthening of economic sanctions against Russia.

Since the beginning of March, Russia’s military has conducted exercises around Japan on a number of occasions.

At a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting on Monday, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, “[Russia] has been conducting various activities in the Far East in connection with its invasion of Ukraine.”

The Russian military announced on Thursday that it conducted exercises involving high-performance surface-to-air missiles in the northern territories and other areas.

According to the Defense Ministry, 10 Russian naval vessels passed through the Tsugaru Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido on Thursday and Friday.

On Monday, six Russian Navy vessels were confirmed to have passed through the Soya Strait, north of Hokkaido.

Kishida said, “China and Russia maintain close ties and have been working closely on military cooperation around Japan.”

The Defense Ministry will boost its monitoring of the Russian military, which has been active in waters around Hokkaido, and China’s increased maritime activities around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.