Japan and Russia Accuse One Another of Dangerous Military Buildup
(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued May 30, 2019)
The accusations have been leveled at a meeting between foreign and defense ministers in Tokyo. At dispute are islands both countries claim as their own, and a new US missile defense system.

Japanese and Russian foreign and defense ministers meeting in Tokyo on Thursday accused each others' governments of unacceptable military buildups in the region.

The Japanese say Russia's expanded military presence in the disputed Kuril Islands is "unacceptable," whereas the Russians say Japan's planned installation of a US-made Aegis Ashore missile defense system poses a "potential threat."

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told his counterpart Sergei Lavrov, "Our country's legal position does not accept the missile drills, fighter aircraft deployment, and enhancement of the military presence in the Northern Territories."

Lavrov defended his country's actions, saying, "The Russian armed forces are active on their sovereign territory, and they have the right to do that based on international law."

Japan's US co-operation irks Russians

Lavrov objected to Japan's planned deployment of the Aegis missile defense system, as well as Japan's increased military cooperation with the US.

The subject was addressed by Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, who told his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu that the system was "purely for defensive purposes and never for use to threaten Russia or other countries."

Japan has been bolstering its missile defense systems as it sees itself under increasing threat from neighboring China and North Korea. In December, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also approved plans to buy F-35 stealth fighter jets and cruise missiles as part of the nation's growing military collaboration with the US.

Islands blocking formal end of World War II hostilities

The disputed islands, referred to as the Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by the Japanese, were seized from imperial Japan by the Soviet Union at the close of the Second World War.

Situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean, just off the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, the dispute over the islands has kept both countries from formally ending the war in the Pacific.

Prime Minister Abe has been keen to regain the islands in hopes of developing oil, gas, and other natural resources.

Last November, Abe and Putin agreed to speed up negotiations — based on a 1956 Soviet proposal — to return the islands to Japan, yet progress has been slow.

Thursday's meeting was convened in a "two plus two" format to work out details regarding the islands before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet at the upcoming G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in late June.

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Russian-Japanese Military Relations Make a Significant Contribution to Security in Pacific Rim
(Source: Russian Ministry of Defence; issued May 30, 2019)
“The joint dialogue between the foreign policy and defenсe departments of Russia and Japan makes a serious contribution to creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and security in the Pacific Rim” said Russian Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, speaking today at the Russian-Japanese talks between Foreign and Defence Ministers in Tokyo.

According to Sergei Shoigu, "at present, Russian-Japanese relations in the military sphere continue to develop steadily."

He also said that earlier they had discussed in detail the cooperation in the military sphere with the Head of the Japanese Defenсe Ministry, Takeshi Iwaya, and shared their assessments of the regional situation.

He said that he was counting on fruitful and meaningful discussions.

The Russian Defence Minister thanked the Japanese partners for the excellent organization of the consultations in Tokyo.

In turn, the Head of the Japanese Defence Ministry, Takeshi Iwaya, stressed that during the meeting with Sergei Shoigu, a frank exchange of views took place on a variety of topical issues, including such as defence policy, regional issues, including the situation around North Korea.

According to him, the parties agreed to develop a dialogue in security sphere, as well as to promote the organization of joint exercises of military personnel of the two countries.

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Russian Defence Minister Looks Forward to Constructive Cooperation With Japanese Defence Ministry
(Source: Russian Ministry of Defence; issued May 30, 2019)
Russian Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu expects that the military departments of the Russian Federation and Japan can contribute to the development of the dialogue between the two countries.

“It is important to determine the contribution that military departments can make to the establishment of constructive contacts between our countries. I will note that lately Russian-Japanese relations have developed significantly” said Shoigu during talks with the Head of the Japanese Defence Ministry, Takeshi Iwaya.

According to him, "Moscow and Tokyo are engaged in an active dialogue."

Sergei Shoigu noted that regular meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe play a key role in strengthening the positive atmosphere.

“I’m sure,” said the Russian Defence Minister, “that our negotiations will serve to further strengthen partnerships and develop mutually beneficial cooperation between the ministries of defence of the two countries.”

Sergei Shoigu thanked Takeshi Iwaya for the invitation to visit Japan and the hospitality provided.

"We hope that this time will be beneficial for Russian-Japanese relations, including in the military sphere" said Shoigu, addressing a colleague.

Sergei Shoigu called it gratifying that the consultations of the heads of defence ministries and ministries foreign affairs of Russia and Japan have become traditional. Previous negotiations took place in Moscow last year.

“Today,” the Minister of Defense of Russian Federation noted, “we are entrusted with the important task of bringing bilateral relations to a new level, which will facilitate the search for mutually acceptable solutions on the most sensitive issues.”

Sergei Shoigu proposed “to exchange views on the security situation, topical issues of the global and regional agenda, including its military-political component”.

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Russian Defence Minister Was the First Foreign Heads of Military Department to Visit the Japanese Ground Force Combat Command
(Source: Russian Ministry of Defence; issued May 30, 2019)
Russian Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu got acquainted himself with the work of the combat command of the ground force of the Japan Self-Defence Forces, which is deployed in the capital’s Asaka garrison.

The Japanese military point out that Sergei Shoigu was the first of the foreign heads of military departments to visit this body, which was formed in March 2018 on the basis of the headquarters of the central command of the Rapid Reaction Forces.

Ground Force Combat Command is the highest operational authority of this service of Japanese Self-Defence Forces. It is intended for the organization and management of the tasks assigned to the ground force in peacetime and wartime, the management of forces subordinate directly to the commander. Ground Force Combat Command is subordinate to Cheif of Joint Staff of Japanese Self-Defence Forces.

The Asaka garrison is located on the northwestern outskirts of Tokyo (Nerima district), with a total area of 91 hectares.

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