Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera plans to tell his French counterpart that Japan has strong concerns about France’s planned sale of two helicopter carriers to Russia, according to a Japanese government source.
In a move meant to show support for the stance of the United States, Onodera will tell French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who will visit Japan next week, that the sale of amphibious assault ships to Russia “would not be appropriate in view of the international situation” following the recent downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine, the source said.
The Mistral-class warships to be sold to Russia can each carry up to 16 helicopters, four amphibious landing craft and 900 soldiers.
Russia plans to deploy one of the warships in the Far East, according to the government source.
While Japan, which is aiming to conclude a peace treaty with Moscow and resolve a territorial dispute, wants to maintain good relations with Russia, a senior Defense Ministry official said deployment of the French vessel in the Far East could pose a threat to regional security.