Japan defence report warns on Russia

An increasingly assertive Russia is staging more frequent military drills near Japan, including with nuclear submarines, the defence ministry here warned in a report Friday. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s cabinet approved the annual "white paper" on defence policy, which also reiterated Japan’s longstanding unease about China’s rapid military buildup and the threat of North Korea.

The report came as tensions rise between Russia and the West over the conflict in Georgia, which some pundits fear could open the door to a new cold war. Japan, a close US ally, has never formally ended World War II with Russia due to Moscow’s continued control over four islands off Japan’s northern coast seized in 1945.

"It has been observed that the Russian military is becoming active in areas close to Japan, including drills and training aimed at improving its proficiency," the white paper said. It said Russia also appeared to be conducting new types of drills near Japan, including ones involving nuclear-powered submarines.

"Airplane drills and flights near Japan are becoming more frequent," it said, adding that a Russian military jet intruded Japanese airspace in February.

[Source: Daily Times, Tokyo, 06Sep08]

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