Observer of WPS agency/

Broadening of the military relations between Moscow and Tokyo is one of the important directions of the Russian-Japanese relations development. During their first informal summit in November of 1997 in Krasnoyarsk Russian President Boris Yeltsin and former Japanese Premier Ryutaro Hashimoto stressed this once again. In November of 1998 leaders of both countries confirmed this course during the visit of Japanese President Obuti to Moscow.

The words of the politicians are brought into life. On December 4 general of the army Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff, arrived to Japan for the first time in the modern history. Military cooperation of democratic Russia and Japan was started in 1993. In February of 1993 the first, although unofficial, visit of a top-ranking Russian military official to Japan took place. Lieutenant general A. Nikolaev, senior deputy chief of the General Staff, participated in the seminar dedicated to the defense issues.

By March of 1994 three such seminars were already organized, during which the problems of the international security , mutual measures of trust in the military sphere and the military doctrines of both countries were discussed.

On September 14-15 of 1994 the first cooperative Russian-Japanese naval exercises for rescuing of the victims of shipwrecks were organized in the Petr Veliky Bay near Vladivostok.

On March 3 of 1995 negotiations between colonel general B. Gromov, Deputy Defense Minister, and Sigeru Hatakeyama, deputy director of the Japanese National Defense Department, were conducted in Tokyo. The Russian party offered a broad list of measures for strengthening of trust between the armed forces of both countries.

On September 15-17 of 1995 the second cooperative naval exercises for rescuing of the victims of shipwrecks were organized in the Japanese Sea.

On April 27-29 of 1996 Hideo Usui, director of the Japanese National Defense Department, officially visited Russia for the first time in the history of the Russian-Japanese relations. He visited Tamanskaya mechanized infantry division and air base Kubinka, conducted negotiations with the Russian Defense and Foreign Ministers and signed the protocol on the measures of trust in the military sphere.

On July 26-29 of 1996 Japanese destroyer Kurama visited Vladivostok (for the first time since 1925) and participated in celebration of the 300 th anniversary of the Russian navy.

On May 16-18 of 1997 the first visit of Defense Ministry I. Rodionov in the history of bilateral relations was organized. He conducted negotiations with Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda and National Defense Department director Fumio Kyuma. The parties agreed on formation of the joint working group, on informing each other about organization of large-scale military exercises and on the main directions of the defense policy.

On June 27-30 of 1997 large anti-submarine ship of the Russian Navy Admiral Vinogradov officially visited Japan (for the first time during the last 103 years). He participate din the cooperative exercises with Japanese destroyer Sirane.

On September 22 of 1997 the memorandum on intentions of cooperation between the Russian Federation and Japan regarding re-training of the discharged Russian servicemen for civil professions in the Far East was signed in Moscow.

On January 26-28 of 1998 the working visit of Masihiro Akiyama, senior deputy director of the Japanese National Defense Department, to Russia was organized.

On March 16-21 of 1998 the meetings of the joint Russian-Japanese working group of the Russian defense Ministry and Japanese National Defense Department were conducted in Moscow and Vladivostok. The Japanese delegation was presided by director of the National Defense Department planning section Seisi Sueya. The plan of the cooperative measures for 1998 was approved.

On May 31 of 1998 admiral Kadzuya Natsukava, chairperson of the join chiefs of staff committee of the National Self-Defense Forces visited Russia for 8 days. He met with his Russian counterpart, chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, Navy commander-in-Chief admiral Vladimir Kuroedov and spoke to the students and professors of the Military Academy of the General Staff.

Commenting on results of the visit he announced that his goal was “conduction of a whole range of meetings and consultations with the Russian military leadership to make activity of the security agencies more transparent”. Natsukava stressed: “My goal was achieved. Japan and Russia are two neighboring countries, which are closely connected geographically and historically. Both countries possess a big international influence, in particular, in the Asian-Pacific region.” According to Natsukava, “the dialog and contacts between Japan and Russia are very important for development of the mutual understanding, for establishment of relations of trust, friendship and cooperation.” “This will also contribute to strengthening of security not only in the Asian-Pacific region, but also to strengthening of the international security”, stressed the Japanese guest.

During his visit to Moscow the Japanese military official finally defined the time of the Russian-Japanese naval exercises for the search and rescue of a drowning ship. These exercises were conducted in the North Eastern part of the Japanese Sea on June 28-30. On July 24 a formation of the Japanese ships arrived to Vladivostok to participate in the exercises. On the Russian part large anti-submarine ships Admiral Panteleev and Admiral Vinogradov participated in the exercises, and destroyers Kurama and Yamagiri and training ship Hamana participated in the exercises on the Japanese part. The coast and shipborne aviation of both parties participated in the exercises on both parts as well. On December 4 the response visit of general of the army Anatoly Kvashnin, chief of the General Staff, to Japan was started. This is the first visit of a Russian military official of such rank to Japan, that is why its program is saturated to the maximum extent. On December 4 Kvashnin met with Kadzuya Natsukava, chairperson of the join chiefs of staff committee of the National Self-Defense Forces, conducted the protocol meetings with Hosei Norote, director of the National Defense Department and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, as well as with Seidzi Emo, senior deputy director of the National Defense Department.

The military sources reported that during the meetings with Japanese military officials and politicians Kvashnin outlined the essence of suggestions of the Russian party, regarding the further development of the military cooperation with Tokyo. The parties also discussed the visit of the National Defense Department director to Russia in 1999, perspectives of the new cooperative exercises and the problems of the regional security provision.

Reporting about the visit of Kvashnin to Japan the Defense Ministry representatives pointed out that in 1998 broadening of the Russian-Japanese military contacts had a good start: Masahiro Akiyama, senior deputy director of the National Defense Department, and Kadzuya Natsukava, chairperson of the join chiefs of staff committee of the National Self-Defense Forces, visited Russia. The Russian military colleagues taught their Japanese colleagues to pilot Su-27 fighter, and at the end of July the first full-scale bilateral naval exercises in the sphere of search and rescue missions in the history of the bilateral relations were conducted in the Northern part of the Japanese Sea.

Representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry reported that the so-called “hot line” is currently prepared for direct communication between the commands of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the Japanese Navy, which will allow quick solving of urgent problems, including the cases of naval incidents. Training of the Japanese officers in the Russian Academy of Combined Arms for their participation in the peacekeeping operations is also discussed.

Representatives of the Defense Ministry did not confirm the recent report, saying that Tokyo will purchase a series of Su-27 aircraft from Russia. A top-ranking official of the General Staff answered: “This is the business of Rosvooruzhenie, and not the business of the Armed Forces.” He added that the Russian military educational institutions are ready, if necessary, to train the Japanese servicemen in any profession.

Meanwhile Kvashnin will not confine himself only to the visit to Japan. On December 6-10 he will visit the USA, where he will also discuss the bilateral cooperation issues, and on December 11-12 he will visit Cuba, where he will also negotiate about the necessity to broaden military contacts between Moscow and Havana.

Thus, despite the crisis in the country, the Russian military leaders make the steps for broadening of military contacts with many countries, which is confirmed by the visits of Kvashnin to Japan, USA and Cuba.