Vladimir Rakhmanin, named the Russian Foreign Ministry’s chief press spokesman earlier this month, said yesterday that Moscow is keeping a close eye on recent developments in Japanese-U.S. defense ties. Rakhmanin also said that Moscow has consulted with both Washington and Tokyo on the issue. Moscow insists, he said, “that any changes in military cooperation between [Japan and the United States] be transparent and have a strictly defensive character.” (Itar-Tass, April 29)
Rakhmanin’s remarks follow moves by Tokyo and Washington to strengthen their defense relationship. On April 28, the Japanese government submitted legislation to parliament to permit Japan to offer logistical support to U.S. forces in Japan in the event of a crisis. It would also expand the scope of military cooperation between the two countries–currently limited to the defense of Japanese territory. The same day, visiting U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi signed an agreement related to the proposed legislative changes. (The New York Times, April 29)
This week’s moves in Tokyo follow up a broader agreement reached last fall aimed at strengthening Japanese-U.S. defense ties. Russia’s Foreign Ministry reached warily to that accord as well, saying it had requested clarification from Moscow and Tokyo on the details of the new defense relationship. (See Monitor, September 26, 1997) Since the September agreement, relations between Japan and Russia have improved significantly. Moscow hopes that development will help raise Russia’s broader role in security decision-making in the Asia-Pacific region.
KIRIENKO AND THE REGIONS: A WAR ON TWO FRONTS.