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Japan Asks Russia to Reduce Military Activity on Disputed Islands

JAPAN: Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Tuesday Tokyo had asked Russia to reduce its military activity on a disputed island chain in the Pacific after Moscow beefed up its forces there in response to what it sees as a potential threat.

The territorial dispute over the islands, known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, is so acrimonious that Moscow and Tokyo have not yet signed a peace treaty to mark the end of World War II.

 

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved the deployment of Russian warplanes on one of the disputed islands in February, accelerating the area’s militarization at a time when Moscow’s ties with Tokyo are strained over the roll-out of the Aegis U.S. missile system.

Moscow has also deployed its newest missile defense systems to the islands and plans to build a naval base there even as it continues talks about the territorial dispute.

“We have asked the Russian side to take particular measures because Russia is building up its military potential on the four northern islands,” Onodera said after meeting his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow. The Soviet Union seized the islands from Japan at the end of World War II.

Onodera said that the ground-based Aegis ballistic missile defense stations were solely intended to defend Japan and did not pose any threat to Russia.

Russia is concerned Japan is allowing Washington to use its territory as a base for a U.S. military build-up in north Asia under the pretext of countering North Korea.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in September in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East. Thailand Asks Britain to Extradite Convicted Former PM Yingluck

Thailand has asked Britain to extradite former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, overthrown in a coup in 2014 and sentenced in absentia to jail for negligence, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday.

Yingluck fled the country last August to avoid being jailed over a rice subsidy scheme that ran up losses in the billions of dollars. She has denied wrongdoing and said the trial was politically motivated.

The Supreme Court sentenced her in absentia to five years’ jail last September.

Prayuth said the request was a necessary procedure between the two countries which share an extradition treaty.

“We cannot go and arrest people abroad so it is up to that country to arrest and send [her] to us,” Prayuth said.

Yingluck and her brother, ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have been at the center of a power struggle that has dominated Thai politics for more than a decade, pitting traditional royalist and the military elite against the Shinawatra family and their supporters in the rural north and northeast.