Japan scrambles jets at Russia helicopter incursion as old rivals feud over Ukraine and WWII island dispute

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Japan said it scrambled fighter jets to deter a Russian helicopter incursion into its airspace as the two old rivals feud over Ukraine and a World War II-era territorial dispute.

Japan MP Kono Taro said the violation occurred over Nemuro Peninsula on Wednesday morning, with Tokyo’s Ministry of Defence linking the breach to Russia’s military drills in the Sea of Okhotsk.

The two countries never signed a formal peace treaty after World War II, and Japan’s support of Ukraine has reignited their feud over the disputed Kuril Islands seized by the Soviets after declaring war on the empire in 1945.

Japan joined international sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Hideki Uyama compared to Russia’s occupation of its four islands north of Hokkaido.

“I understand that Russia occupying Northern Territories and Russian military’s invasion happening in Ukraine now are both against international law,” Mr Uyama said, according to the Asahi newspaper.

In response, Russia’s embassy in Tokyo tweeted that the islands were legally transferred as "part of the punishment for Japan’s aggression and its alliance with Nazi Germany".

"In fact, Japan has come to support the Nazi government twice in less than 100 years. They once supported the Hitler administration, and this time the Ukrainian administration," the embassy tweeted.

Mr Putin has claimed the "Nazi regime" of Ukraine’s Jewish president was the driving force of his "peacekeeping" troops, which are in the process of bringing said the so-called peace through a full-scale invasion of the country.

Tokyo has committed to hosting Ukrainian refugees and the pacifist country has had about 70 Japanese fighters apply to volunteer to join Ukrainian armed forces.

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe has even suggested they host US nuclear weapons in the wake of the Russian invasion.

As the fighting in Ukraine enters its seventh day, Japan’s Ministry of Defence said the Russian military used exercises in the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk to show how it could operate simultaneously in Europe and Asian theatres of war.

“Under the current circumstances … Russia’s increased activity in the sea and airspace around Japan is a cause for concern, and we will take all possible measures to monitor it vigilantly,” the ministry said in a statement, according to the Japan Times.

The Russian embassy in Tokyo has been rapidly tweeting that Japan’s claims about Russia are "frankly false", that its special military operations in Ukraine were to "denazify" the country, and that there is "no evidence" of attacks on civilian infrastructure.

"Shame on you," Mr Kono, Japan’s former foreign and defence minister, tweeted in response.