Japan watches Russian warships near Tsushima Strait

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Japan watches Russian warships near Tsushima Strait

Japan's defense ministry said on Tuesday that it had observed five Russian warships led by an anti-submarine destroyer steaming through the Tsushima Strait, which separates Japan and South Korea.

The five-ship Russian flotilla has been close to Japanese islands for a week, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, the ministry said in a news release.

The ministry said the group has been operating in waters near Japan since June 12.

The Russian Navy destroyer Admiral Panteleyev is seen in this image released by Japan's Defense Ministry. James Brown, associate professor of political science at Temple University in Tokyo, said this is an obvious show of force from both Russia and China. These activities are a major concern for Japan. Tracking the movements of Russian and Chinese military forces is a strain on the resources of the Japan Self Defense Forces. Brown said that Kishida's hosting of the summit was just one reason Beijing would want to show its displeasure with Tokyo. Beijing has been angered by Japanese statements about the security of Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party considers it a domestic matter, Brown said. President Joe Biden said at the Tokyo summit that the United States would intervene militarily if China tried to take Taiwan by force. The White House later backed back that comment, but the US does maintain a powerful military presence in Japan troops that could come into play in any conflict over Taiwan. The Chinese government sends dozens of warplanes into the skies near Taiwan and mainland China since the defeat of the Nationalists retreated to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago. But China's ruling Communist Party views the self-ruled island as part of its territory despite having never controlled it. Beijing has not ruled out military force to take Taiwan, and Japan sees conflict across the Taiwan Strait as a threat to its security. Moscow is angered by Tokyo's support for Ukraine after Russian forces invaded their European neighbor nearly four months ago, Brown said. That support includes imposing sanctions on Moscow and expelling Russian diplomats, and using its military power to intimidate Japan in the hope that this will deter Tokyo from imposing further measures, Brown said. Brown described the fact that this week's naval actions by Russia and China did not seem to be coordinated as a silver lining for Tokyo. He said that Japan's strategic nightmare is a genuine alliance between China and Russia.