Tokyo 'Closely Watching' Naval Activities Near Japan in Wake of Russia-China Joint Drills
On Tuesday, the Japanese Defence Ministry underlined that naval vessels from Russia and China had passed through the Tsugaru Strait in full compliance with international norms.
Chinese and Russian warships have jointly sailed through the Tsugaru Strait, in a mission that included about ten naval vessels from both countries, according to Tokyo.
"The government is closely watching Chinese and Russian naval vessels' activities around Japan like this one with high interest. We will continue to do our utmost in our surveillance activity in waters and airspace around Japan", Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told reporters on Tuesday.
A Japanese Defence Ministry spokesperson, in turn, underscored that there had been no violation of Japanese territorial waters and no international rules were broken during the passage of the vessels.
reported that it was the first time the country’s Defence Ministry had confirmed Chinese and Russian warships passing through the international waters of the Tsugaru Strait, separating the Sea of Japan
from the Pacific Ocean.
"China and Russia conducted a joint naval drill in the Sea of Japan this month and it is possible that some of the vessels [which sailed through the Tsugaru Strait] were part of the exercise", the news outlet added.
The remarks came after the joint Sino-Russian naval drills "Maritime Interaction 2021" wrapped up in the area on Sunday.
The Russian Defence Ministry said that during the four-day exercises, "the crews of the two countries' warships drilled joint tactical manoeuvering, mine countermeasures, and artillery live-firing against seaborne targets".
Russia's Pacific Fleet was represented by the anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev, several corvettes and minesweepers, as well as the Project 877 submarine Ust-Bolsheretsk. China's People's Liberation Army Navy, in turn, dispatched several destroyers and corvettes plus a diesel submarine to the "Maritime Interaction 2021" drills.
The exercises, which have been held since 2012, aim to strengthen the combat capabilities of Russia and China to help them jointly counter seaborne threats. The drills are conducted outside the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
The passage of Russian and Chinese warships through the Tsugaru Strait followed an incident in the Sea of Japan last week, when the Admiral Tributs, a large Udaloy-class anti-submarine ship, approached the USS Chafee, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, in a bid to drive the warship from the area after the vessel ignored several warnings.
The Russian Defence Ministry released a statement saying that on "15 October at about 5 p.m. local time, the USS Chafee destroyer, which has been operating in the Sea of Japan for several days, approached the territorial waters of the Russian Federation and made an attempt to cross the state border".
The Defence Ministry stressed that throughout the incident, the Admiral Tributs remained in full compliance with international regulations governing maritime navigation.