Russia holds military exercises on Japanese territorial islands

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kunashiri Island in the northern territories is seen behind Cape Shiretoko in Hokkaido.

Russia has conducted military exercises aimed at preventing “enemy” forces landing on the islands of Kunashiri and Etorofu in the Northern Territories, the Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday.

The exercises are part of Moscow’s large-scale Vostok 2022 drills, which began Thursday, centered around the Far East.

The ministry said drones, electronic warfare technology and other equipment were employed to prepare for potential raids, among other scenarios in the northern territories — four islands claimed by Japan as an integral part of the country, but which have been occupied by Russia since World War II.

During the Soviet era, Sept. 3 was considered “Victory over Japan” day, but in 2020, the Russian government simply designated the date as the end of the war, with no reference to Japan.

By conducting the exercises, Moscow may be signaling its unwillingness to compromise on the territorial issue.