Tensions between Russia and Japan reportedly have heightened as Japan makes preparations to transfer Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova expressed serious concerns about the Asian country's decision, emphasizing that it could have "grave consequences" for the already strained relations between Vladimir Putin's government and Japan.
Japan, following a revision of its arms export guidelines, recently announced its intent to send Patriot air defense missiles to the United States. While Japan's export control typically prohibits the shipment of weapons to countries at war, Reuters reported that this move could indirectly assist Ukraine in its conflict with Russia by providing the United States with additional capacity to offer military aid to Kyiv.
During one of her weekly briefings, Zakharova stated that "the Japanese side loses control over the weapons with which Washington can now do whatever it wants," and she expressed concerns that Patriot missiles might eventually find their way to Ukraine.
She warned that if Japan proceeds with sending Patriot systems to Ukraine, it would be perceived as "unambiguously hostile actions against Russia," leading to severe consequences for Japan in terms of bilateral relations, per Reuters.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute, a U.S. think tank, emphasized the absence of a binding peace agreement between Japan and Russia, citing the technicalities of World War II still apply.
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Felix K. Chang, a senior fellow at the institute, explained that despite Japan surrendering to the Allies in 1945, Moscow and Tokyo have never signed an official peace treaty. Ongoing territorial disputes, such as the one involving four islands between Hokkaidō and the Kuril Islands, continue to complicate bilateral ties.
Recent escalations in relations include a joint exercise in which Japan and South Korea scrambled fighter jets to monitor Chinese and Russian bombers. The Defense Ministry reported sightings of various aircraft, including China’s H-6, J-16, Y-8 and Russia’s Tu-95, Tu-142, Su-35 flying towards the East China Sea through the channel between Japan and South Korea, Reuters reported.
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Historically, Japan maintained a pro-Russian stance in the 2010s under Shinzo Abe's rule and refrained from denouncing Putin's annexation of Ukraine in 2014.
However, Japan's pro-Russia stance has rapidly deteriorated, leading to the imposition of sanctions against Putin's government, as reported by Al Jazeera.
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