Japan not considers Russia its enemy, but watches Russian army in Far East

Japan does not consider Russia its enemy, but is watching closely the state of the Russian Armed Forces in the Far East.

On Tuesday the Japanese Cabinet endorsed the White Book of the National Defense Agency for 2004, which spells out the country's military strategy and the Agency's stand towards the situation with armies of Asian-Pacific countries.

Russia preserves significant forces in the Far East, including nuclear weapons, the White Book states.

"Thus it is necessary to continue keeping track of all movements of the Russian military in the district," it reads.

On Monday, the Agency's defense councilor Koukichi Tomita held a briefing on the role of self-defense troops in Japan's diplomacy at the Japanese Foreign Ministry's press center for foreign journalists, where he dwelled on the White Book's contents.

When answering a RIA Novosti correspondent, Tomita said that there definitely were "certain contacts" between the Agency and the Russian Defense Ministry.

"Our countries' military ships pay visits to each other, we organize joint exercises. Relations are certainly improving. Japan does not see Russia as its enemy," he said.

Nevertheless, the White Book states, "Russian armed forces are still deployed in the Northern territories. It is important that they should be withdrawn as soon as possible".

By the Northern territories Japan means Russia's three islands in the south of the Kurils - Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, as well as the Khabomai archipelago.