JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.87

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Japan-Russia Defense Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting

Japan-Russia Defense Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting

On March 20th, 2017, Minster of Defense Inada held a meeting with Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu during his visit to Japan in Tokyo. The two Ministers discussed the defense policies of both countries and Japan-Russia defense exchanges.

1. Introduction

Minister of Defense Inada welcomed Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu’s visit to Japan and stated that it is meaningful to hold the first Japan-Russia Defense Ministerial Meeting in three years and four months, given the increasingly severe security environment facing Japan and Russia. In response, Minister Shoigu expressed appreciation toward the warm welcome and stated his intention to further promote defense exchanges between Japan and Russia.

2. Defense Policy

Minister of Defense Inada explained that Japan will continue to actively contribute to peace and stability in the region and the international community than ever before, under the basic philosophy of proactive contribution to peace based on the principle of international cooperation. She also explained that the Japan-U.S. Alliance represents a foundation for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu stated that the fundamental principle of Russia’s military policy is to avoid all forms of armed conflict and explained that Russia is working to modernize its military for the security of Russia and its alliance partners.

3. Japan-Russia Defense Exchanges and Cooperation

Both Ministers agreed that it is important for Japan and Russia to deepen cooperation in order to ensure stability and prosperity in the region, given the security environment facing Japan and Russia. Toward that end, both Ministers reaffirmed that they would continue to hold working level consultations, unit-to-unit exchanges, and Japan-Russia Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX).

4. Regional Situation

Minister of Defense Inada explained about the situation pertaining to North Korea’s nuclear testing and missile development as well as the situation in the East China Sea and South China Sea while pointing out that how to confront the rise of China is a matter that pertains to the order of the international community. Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu mainly explained about Russia’s response to international terrorism and about the situation in Syria.

Japan-Russia Defense Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting
Japan-Russia Defense Ministerial Meeting and 2nd Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting

In addition, on the same day, Minister of Defense Inada and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida met with Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov as part of the Japan-Russia Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting (hereinafter, “2+2”). The Japan-Russia 2+2 meeting marks the second such meeting since November 2013. Both countries agreed to continue holding this dialogue in the future and to hold the next 2+2 meeting in Russia.

1. Security Situation in the Asia-Pacific Region

(1)Situation in North Korea

Both sides agreed on strongly urging North Korea to refrain from further provocative actions and abide by the UN Security Council resolution, and that they will work closely together regarding this matter, including at the United Nations. Both sides also agreed to continue to hold candid talks and cooperate with one another, including reaching out to North Korea and China.

(2) Missile Defense (MD)

The Russian side stated that the deployment of the U.S. MD system raises the risk of instability in the region and that the scale of this system is not in line with the threat of North Korean missiles. Minister of Defense Inada explained that Japan will deploy the MD system in order to respond to the growing and imminent threat from North Korea and that the MD system does not pose a threat to Russia.

(3) South China Sea and East China Sea

Minister of Defense Inada stated that China’s infrastructure development through assertive and large-scale land reclamation since 2014 changes the balance in the region and that Japan has concerned with such actions. She also expressed concerns over China’s efforts to promote activities based on its own assertions in the East China Sea.

2. Fostering Trust between Japan-Russia in the Field of Security

(1) Both Japanese Ministers stated that Russia’s deployment of surface-to-ship missiles in the Northern Territories is regrettable and that it runs counter to Japan’s position. Minister of Defense Inada conveyed her concerns about the more active flights around Japanese air space by Russian military aircraft.

(2) Both Japanese Ministers stated their concern that if Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu’s remarks about Russia’s deployment of a new troop division to territories including the four northern islands are true, it runs counter to Japan’s position.

(3) Both sides agreed to continue to engage in working level consultations held between the defense authorities in both countries, unit-to-unit exchanges, and Japan-Russia Search and Rescue Exercise. Both sides also agreed to schedule a port call in Russia by the JMSDF training vessels this year.

3. Non-traditional Threats

Both sides agreed to further advance cooperation based on the past results with regard to responses to non-traditional security threats, such as terrorism and drug trafficking.

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