Japan voiced concern on Wednesday regarding Russia’s plan to deploy missiles and an advanced air defense system on disputed islands claimed by both countries.
“The military build-up on four Northern Territory islands is very regrettable,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a press conference.
“It contradicts our country’s stance,” the top government spokesman said, adding that “Japan will closely monitor trends of Russia’s military activities in the Far East.”
His remarks came after Russian Interfax News Agency reported last night that Moscow will install Yakhont antiship cruise missiles, the Tor-M2 antiaircraft system and Mi-28H “Night Hunter” attack helicopters, on Russian-held islands claimed by Japan, citing a Russian defense official.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last month ordered the Defense Ministry to modernize armed forces in the country’s Far East.
The disputed four islands, known as the Northern Territories by Japan and the southern Kurils by Russia, lie north of Japan’s main northern island of Hokkaido.
Medvedev was the first Russian leader to visit the islands, sparking a major diplomatic row between the two countries.
Since Medvedev’s trip to one of the islands in November, high-ranking Russian officials made a series of visits to the disputed islands, including Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov’s tour early February.
On February 7th in 1855, Japan and Russia signed a treaty that defined the four islands as Japanese territory.
But the Soviet Union seized the four islands on August 28th 1945, nearly two weeks after Japan’s surrender in World War II on August 15th and expelled their Japanese residents.
Tokyo insists the Northern Territories are not part of the Kuril chain of islands it renounced under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty with the Allies, which the Soviet Union never signed.
The territorial dispute has prevented the two nations from concluding a peace treaty to formally end WWII and discouraged investment in Russia by Japan.