The deputy of the Russian Security Council and former President Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday that Japan’s escalating militarism complicates the situation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia and Japan have complex relations after a decades-old territorial dispute over a group of small Russian-controlled islands off Japan’s Hokkaido that Moscow calls the Southern Kuril Islands and Tokyo calls the Northern Territories.
The dispute over the area, which was seized by the Soviet Union in the final days of World War II, prevented Tokyo and Moscow from reaching a formal peace treaty after the war.
“It is unfortunate that the Japanese authorities are pursuing a course towards a new militarization of the country,” Medvedev said.
“Troop exercises are taking place near the Kuril Islands, which seriously complicates the situation in the Asia-Pacific region,” he added.
This year, Russia decided to declare September 3, the day after Japan’s surrender in World War II, as “Victory Day over militaristic Japan,” prompting Tokyo to protest.
Medvedev said that Japan is working with the help of the United States to expand its military infrastructure and increase its arms purchases.
Japan’s Defense Ministry on Thursday sought a record $53 billion in the next fiscal year’s budget, as part of its biggest military buildup since World War Two, with the aim of doubling defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product by 2027.
This is due to the growing influence of China and the unpredictability of North Korea.