Japan defense minister expresses concern with China over Sino-Russian military flights near Japanese airspace

Japan defense minister expresses concern with China over Sino-Russian military flights near Japanese airspace

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has expressed his concern with China over a number of regional security issues, including repeated Sino-Russian military flights near Japanese airspace and Beijing's activities in the East and South China Seas.

After his first in-person meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, held on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore, Kishi told reporters on Sunday that he expressed serious concerns over the continuation of joint Sino-Russian military exercises around Japan, including the deployment of long-range strategic bombers, and Tokyo views these activities as a demonstration against Japan. According to Japan's Defense Ministry, Kishi also raised the issue of China's ongoing deployment of government vessels near the Senkaku Islands and called for Beijing to exercise self-restraint and refrain from attempting to change the status quo in the area by force. He expressed concern about Chinese military activities in the East China Sea, including exercises near Japanese waters involving the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.

Kishi said that he urged the Chinese side to listen to the concerns of the international community, particularly regarding the militarization of the region, while emphasising Japan's opposition to changing the status quo or any action that would escalate tensions in the region.

On Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province, Kishi reiterated Tokyo's position that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are of critical importance not only for Japan but also for the international community.

The defense ministers spoke about the situation in Ukraine, with Kishi claiming that Russia's unilateral attempt to change the status quo is a violation of both the U.N. Charter and international law that shakes the very foundation of international order, not only in Europe but also in Asia. In this regard, Kishi called on China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, to play a responsible role in maintaining peace and security in the international community.

Kishi highlighted the need for both sides to communicate further, given the number and complexity of the security issues in the region, with both countries agreeing to promote dialogue and exchanges between their respective defense authorities, according to the ministry.

Kishi s meeting with Wei in Singapore marked the first time a Japanese and a Chinese defense minister held an in-person meeting since 2019.