TOKYO, November 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian concern over the deployment of elements of a US missile defense network in Japan was the subject of “special attention” during talks in Tokyo this week between Russia’s defense and foreign ministers and their Japanese counterparts, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday.
Shoigu said that the Russians had suggested holding additional meetings with Japan about Moscow’s apprehension over US moves to deploy missile defenses around the arc of the South China Sea in addition to the disputed European missile shield, including a new missile defense radar in western Japan to join an existing radar in the northern Aomori prefecture.
“We made no secret of the fact that the creation by the US of a global missile defense system, including a Japanese element, is causing us grave concern, primarily over the possible destruction of the strategic balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region,” Shoigu said at a news conference on the outcome of the two-day talks in Tokyo on Saturday.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at the same conference that “the linchpin of Japan’s defense policy remains its union with the US, and there will be no changes in this respect.”
Both countries were, however, positive on the outcome of the talks – the first to be held between the two countries in the 2+2 format of each side’s foreign and defense minister – announcing heightened cooperation on a range of issues related to international security and bilateral relations, as well as plans to meet in the same format on a regular basis.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the two sides had agreed to hold joint anti-terror and anti-piracy military exercises.
“We share the assessment of our Japanese colleagues on the necessity of coordinating our efforts in the fight against international terrorism and piracy. We have proposed strengthening the coordination of Russian and Japanese ships serving in the Horn of Africa region,” said Shoigu, adding that the sailors there could take part in joint naval exercises.
Onodera said both countries intended to send observers to each other’s military exercises on a regular basis, while Shoigu said that the Russian General Staff and its Japanese counterpart were looking at how to cooperate more closely.
Kishida said both countries would broaden their cooperation further within regional organizations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit. “Cooperation between Japan and Russia, as key players in the Pacific Ocean region, is important for fortifying peace and stability in the region,” he said.
The Japanese foreign minister also said that the two countries would start holding meetings on the issue of cybersecurity.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the four ministers had agreed to hold meetings in the 2+2 format on a regular basis, and that the Russians had invited their Japanese counterparts to come to Moscow for this purpose next year.
On Friday, the two foreign ministers said they had agreed to hold peace treaty talks in January or February next year. Moscow and Tokyo never signed a permanent peace treaty after World War II because of a long-running territorial dispute over the Kuril Islands in the north Pacific, an archipelago occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the war and still claimed by Japan.