Japan vows to monitor Russian submarine launches

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Japan vows to monitor Russian submarine launches

Japan said Friday it would strengthen intelligence gathering and monitoring after the Russian Defense Ministry announced a day earlier that two navy submarines had test-fired Kalibr cruise missiles in the Sea of Japan, the latest in a series of high-profile military exercises in the region since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

In recent years Russian military activities, including deployment of state-of-the-art equipment and training exercises, have tended to increase in the vicinity of Japan, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told a news conference. We will continue to collect information and conduct vigilant monitoring with a sense of concern. On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that submarines belonging to the country's Pacific Fleet had launched advanced cruise missiles, the same weapons being used in Ukraine, from submerged positions in the Sea of Japan, successfully hitting a mock target designed to resemble an enemy vessel. The ministry did not reveal the exact date or actual location of the launches.

More than 15 warships and supporting vessels, as well as naval aircraft, had taken part in the exercise, it said.

Russian military activity in the area has gone up recently, including on disputed islands known as the Northern Territories in Japan. On March 28, Tokyo lodged a protest against Moscow through diplomatic channels over drills on the islands involving around 3,000 troops.

According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the Russian military has used exercises in the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk and on or near the disputed islets to highlight its advanced weaponry and ability to operate in both the European and Asian theaters simultaneously amid the war in Ukraine.

Russia is increasing the number of cruise missiles Kalibr-equipped vessels as part of its efforts to modernize its conventional forces, and the two submarines that have been thought to have launched the missiles are believed to have been deployed to the Far East since November, Kishi said.

He believes that the Russian Navy intends to demonstrate the modernization of its naval power, both domestically and internationally, even under the current circumstances, referring to the war in Ukraine.

After the invasion, the ties between the two countries have sunk to new lows.

Thursday s Russian missile test came a day after the U.S. 7th Fleet said it was conducting joint naval exercises with the Maritime Self-Defense Force in the same waterway. The drills, which included the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and MSDF warships, were largely seen as a show of force amid North Korea's recent missile launches and work to repair its main nuclear test site.

Three U.S. aircraft carriers operated in the region in response to soaring tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program and Lincoln's deployment was the first to waters off the Korean Peninsula since November 2017, when three U.S. aircraft carriers operated in the region.

North Korea celebrated the 10 year anniversaries of leader Kim Jong Un's ascendancy to top leadership positions on Monday and Wednesday and marked its most important holiday on Friday, the anniversary of the birth of Kim's grandfather and founder, 110 years ago, with an apparent military parade.