Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu says his ministry has been notified by India that the country will not take part in Russian military exercises on two of the four islands Japan calls the Northern Territories.
Hamada was speaking at a news conference on Tuesday. He referred to large-scale military exercises scheduled to start on Thursday in Russia’s Far East. The training grounds include areas on Etorofu and Kunashiri, two of the four islands.
Russia controls the four islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.
Hamada said Russia’s plan to conduct military exercises in areas that include the two islands runs counter to Japan’s position on the Northern Territories and is totally unacceptable.
India plans to take part in the Russian drills. But Hamada disclosed that India had explained to Japan the country would not join in the exercises on the islands.
India is a member of the so-called Quad, together with Japan, the United States and Australia.
Hamada said his ministry and the Self Defense Forces will continue to promote defense cooperation with India and other Quad members.
He also referred to two US naval warships that sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday.
Hamada said US engagement is extremely important at a time when the Chinese military is increasingly active around Taiwan, making the regional security environment tense.