TOKYO, Oct. 19 (Reuters) – A group of 10 Chinese and Russian warships crossed a strait between Japan’s main island and its northern island of Hokkaido on Monday, the Japanese government said, adding that it was monitoring near these activities.
It was the first time that Japan had confirmed the passage of Chinese and Russian warships sailing together in the Tsugaru Strait, which separates the Sea of Japan from the Pacific.
While the strait is considered international waters, Japan’s ties with China have long been hampered by conflicting claims over a cluster of tiny islets in the East China Sea. Tokyo also has a territorial dispute with Moscow.
“The government is closely monitoring the activities of Chinese and Russian warships around Japan like this one with great interest,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said at a regular press conference on Tuesday. .
“We will continue to do our best in our surveillance activity in the waters and airspace around Japan. “
A spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry said there had been no violation of Japanese territorial waters and no international rules were violated by the passage of ships.
Russia and China held joint naval exercises in the Sea of Japan from October 14 to 17 as part of naval cooperation between the two countries involving warships and support vessels of the Russian Pacific Fleet.
Moscow and Beijing have cultivated closer military and diplomatic relations in recent years at a time when their relations with the West have deteriorated.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; edited by Richard Pullin
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