Russian Warships Spotted Near Japan

( CNN reported on Wednesday that Japan had been tracking eight Russian and Chinese warships near its territory for over a week.

The Japanese Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that five Russian warships and at least two Chinese vessels have been spotted in the vicinity of Japan since June 12 from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

The Defense Ministry said at least two Chinese warships and a supply ship were spotted on Tuesday in the Izu Islands about 310 miles south of Tokyo. It is believed one of the two warships was the Type 55 guided-missile destroyer, the Lhasa, which is one of the most powerful ships in China’s fleet.

Tokyo has not claimed that the Chinese and Russian vessels are coordinating their actions as they did last October when a total of 10 Chinese and Russian vessels participated in joint exercises around much of the Japanese archipelago.

In late May, Chinese and Russian air forces conducted joint strategic air patrols over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, and the western Pacific at the same time Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was hosting a summit in Tokyo with the leaders of the US, Australia, and India.

According to James Brown, associate professor of political science at Temple University in Tokyo, the presence of Russian and Chinese ships near Japan is “an obvious show of force.”

Brown told CNN that the activities are a “major worry for Japan” in large part because expending resources to track the movements of Russian and Chinese ships puts a strain on the Japanese Self Defense Forces.

Moscow has been angered by Japan’s actions after Russian forces invaded Ukraine four months ago. Japan has supported Ukraine in the conflict, including expelling Russian diplomats and imposing sanctions on Moscow. Brown told CNN that Russia wants to use its military power to intimidate Japan and deter Tokyo from imposing any other actions against Moscow.

Brown added that it is a “silver lining” for Japan that the current Chinese and Russian naval actions do not seem to be coordinated as a “genuine alliance between Russia and China” would be “Japan’s strategic nightmare.”