Japan Scrambles Jets: Will Dispute Delay Russia Visit Later This Month? [REPORT]
Was Japan right to scramble jets when Russia entered Japanese airspace off Rishiri Island on Thursday? That's the question on the minds of Japanese and Russian officials today as a heated debate begins to surge.
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Japan scrambling jets in disputed territory coincided with "Northern Territories Day" in Japan, when citizens rally for the return of disputed islands near Hokkaido. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has publicly come out as saying he wants to continue negotiations with Russia for return of the islands. "We will press ahead with negotiations with strong will so that progress will be made towards the conclusive resolution of the territorial problem," Abe told a recent rally. The conflict over the "Northern Territories", including today's scrambled jets, is the last-remaining major problem between Japan and Russia," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after Japan scrambled jets.
Russia's Defense Ministry denies the incident ever happened , citing military exercises allegedly being conducted in the area. Colonel Alexander Gordeyev, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, released a statement, saying: "Flights of military aircraft are ... carried out in strict accordance with the international rules governing air space and do not violate the border of other states."
The news of Japan's scrambling jets comes on the heels of another tense Japanese relationship. Just yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe accused a Chinese navy shop of putting a radar-lock on a Japanese vessel last week - calling the actions "dangerous" and "regrettable". This isn't the first time Japan's scrambled jets, either: just last month, Japan scrambled jets after a Chinese aircraft was seen over the disputed islands.
The question now becomes whether or not Japan's scrambled jets will delay former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's anticipated visit to Moscow later this month. He is expected to discuss territorial issues with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev himself made headlines in July when he landed on a remote island chain in the "Northern Territories": the visit sparked protests and public outcry in Tokyo.
When it comes to the territorial feud between Japan and Russia, we see a long-standing rivalry primarily fueled by tensions from World War II. Soviet soldiers seized the islands at the end of the war, and diplomatic relations have never been the same. Although Japan administers the islands, both Russia and Japan claim sovereignty over the territory. Although unfortunate, Japan's scrambled jets may lead to a breakthrough in the relations. Was Russia's alleged invasion of airspace intentional, or accidental?
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