South Korea’s Seoul (CNN) At least eight Russian and Chinese warships have been seen this week in the waters close to Japan, further indication of the alleged pressure the two allies have been applying to Tokyo as their relations with the Japanese capital deteriorate over the situations in Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively.
The Tsushima Strait separates Japan and South Korea, and on Tuesday, the Japanese Defense Ministry reported that its soldiers had seen five Russian vessels escorted by an anti-submarine destroyer.
According to a news statement from the ministry, the five-ship Russian flotilla has been in close proximity to Japanese islands for a week, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.
A supply ship and at least two warships from China were observed on Tuesday in the Izu Islands, which are located approximately 310 miles (500 kilometres) south of Tokyo. The Lhasa, a Type 55 guided-missile destroyer and one of China’s most potent surface vessels, appeared to be one of those vessels.
According to the ministry, since June 12 this group has been active in waters close to Japan.
This photograph, released by the Japanese Defense Ministry, shows the Russian Navy destroyer Admiral Panteleyev.
James Brown, an associate professor of political science at Temple University in Tokyo, remarked that this was “clearly a show of force from both Russia and China.”
“Japan is quite concerned about these efforts. Last but not least, watching the movements of Chinese and Russian military forces puts a load on the Japan Self Defense Forces’ resources.”
In contrast to last October, when a total of 10 Russian and Chinese vessels engaged in manoeuvres that involved circumnavigating a large portion of the Japanese archipelago, Tokyo made no claims that the Russian and Chinese naval forces were coordinating their actions.
More recently, the Chinese and Russian air forces conducted joint strategic air patrols over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, and the western Pacific Ocean as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hosted a summit of the leaders of the United States, Australia, and India in Tokyo. The Chinese Defense Ministry described this activity as a component of an annual military cooperation plan.
According to Brown, one reason Beijing might wish to express its unhappiness with Tokyo is because Kishida hosted the summit.
The Chinese Communist Party views the security of Taiwan as a local issue, and this has incensed Beijing, according to Brown.
In fact, President Joe Biden declared that the United States would use military force to intervene if China tried to annex Taiwan during the Tokyo summit. The White House eventually recanted that statement, but the US still has substantial military forces stationed in Japan that might be used in a fight involving Taiwan.
Since the vanquished Nationalists fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago, Taiwan and mainland China have been governed independently.
Nevertheless, the self-governing island is considered a part of China’s territory by the Chinese Communist Party, despite never having had any formal control over it.
Beijing has not ruled out military force to capture Taiwan, and Japan regards fighting across the Taiwan Strait as a threat to its security.
After Russian forces invaded its European neighbour about four months ago, Tokyo’s support for Ukraine infuriated Moscow, according to Brown. That support has included placing penalties on Moscow and expelling Russian diplomats.
Therefore, Russia wants to terrify Japan with its military might in the belief that this will stop Tokyo from enacting additional similar measures, Brown added.
Brown called the apparent lack of coordination between China’s and Russia’s naval manoeuvres this week a “silver lining” for Tokyo.
“Japan’s geopolitical nightmare is a genuine alliance between Russia and China,” he warned.