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Japan on edge as tightening Russia-North Korea ties stoke defence anxieties

In a joint statement demonstrating the three governments’ “comprehensive strategic partnership”, they “condemned in the strongest possible terms” deepening military cooperation between the two pariah states, including arms transfers that they said “prolong the suffering of Ukrainian people, violate multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and threaten stability in both Northeast Asia and Europe”.

The US added that its commitment to the security of both Japan and South Korea remained “ironclad”.

Vorobyova said Japan’s protests were “categorically unacceptable”, Jiji Press reported, and added that the Russian government intended to create a new security structure for the Eurasian region.

“It is not at all clear what this agreement means at the moment, but the primary reason it has been signed is because Russia is having problems in Ukraine and cannot produce enough munitions for its forces there,” said Garren Mulloy, an international-relations professor at Daito Bunka University and a specialist in military issues.

“In return, North Korea wants an access point to avoid international sanctions, which they get with the land border and the maritime trade they can have,” he said. “North Korea also wants help with its space programmes, and Russia is therefore a logical partner for that.”

Other items on the North’s shopping list included technology for its nuclear and long-range missile programmes, Mulloy said.

However, that will not affect Japan’s present defence plans, he said.

According to Mulloy, Japan has already factored the growing threat posed by North Korean missiles into its existing defence outlays.

He said another approach might be additional unilateral or multilateral sanctions, although the regime in Pyongyang