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Defense chief raps China, Russia warships' "show of force" near Japan

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi holds a face mask as he sits during the ASEAN Japan Defense Ministers Informal Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on June 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH (Kyodo) -- Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Wednesday criticized Chinese and Russian warships recently sailing near Japan for their "show of force," warning against such actions as saber-rattling tactics against his nation.

    Kishi said at a press conference in Phnom Penh that Japan confirmed five Russian naval vessels have been sailing southward off Hokkaido in the Pacific Ocean and then passing through the Tsushima Strait in southwestern Japan before moving to the Sea of Japan since mid-June.

    He described the actions as "almost circling Japan," and said three Chinese navy ships were also following a similar path.

    Kishi expressed concern over "nearly 10 Russian and Chinese ships moving around our nation in such a short period of time in similar courses."

    He said another six Chinese vessels passed near the southern island prefecture of Okinawa when they moved from the East China Sea toward the Pacific from Tuesday to Wednesday.

    "We need to closely monitor the situation," Kishi said, also referring to the entry of 29 Chinese warplanes into the southwestern part of Taiwan's air defense identification zone. The incursion was announced Tuesday by Taiwan's Defense Ministry.

    The Japanese minister has condemned Beijing and Moscow over a long-distance joint flight by their strategic bombers over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Pacific in late May.

    Kishi was on a two-day visit to Cambodia from Tuesday to attend a meeting with his counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations held earlier Wednesday.

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