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Russian military conducted drills ‘unusually close’ to Japanese airspace

Russian military conducted drills 'unusually close' to Japanese airspace

This map shows the Kuril Islands, disputed territory between Japan and Russia. The Russian military conducted drills in the Sea of Okhotsk near these islands Thursday.

Japan was alerted to Russian military air drills being conducted “unusually close” to its airspace near the disputed Kuril Islands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Thursday.

Fujimura said the Russian military had designated an area within Russian airspace as dangerous for aviation northeast of Japan’s Hokkaido island as it continued drills above the Sea of Okhotsk.

Fujimura said the zone “seems to be set unusually close” to Japanese airspace.

“The government has conveyed our concern to Russia, making inquires about the link between the drills and the flight danger zone,” Fujimura said. “The government is closely watching the situation from the national security point of view.”

The Kuril Islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japanese, were Japanese islands seized by the Soviets in the closing days of World War II. While administered by Russia, they are still claimed by Japan, and this has prevented the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty. (Japan and Russia are technically still at war even though there has been no fighting.)

Over the past few years, we have seen a more aggressive foreign policy from Russia than in the previous decade. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia. Russia has also reasserted its influence over other former Soviet satellite countries. I wonder if Russia wasn’t trying to create a foreign policy dilemma for Japan by holding these drills so close to Japanese airspace, just northeast of Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. One one hand, Japan has a right to defend its airspace if Russia veers into Japanese territory. On the other hand, Tokyo may not want to worsen relations with Moscow.

I also wonder if these drills aren’t in response to the publication of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s essay, “My Political Philosophy,” published this week in October’s issue of Voice magazine, in which Noda wrote that Japan needs to be prepared for emergencies involving its territories and territorial waters, and that simulation exercises should be conducted to determine what course of action Japan should take in such situations.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]