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Japanese Minister Says French Mistral Deal With Russia Can Affect Japan's Security

RIA Novosti

14:37 29/07/2014

TOKYO, July 29 (RIA Novosti) – The sale of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia may have a negative impact on Japan's security, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said during a meeting with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Tokyo.

"Recently, Russia has increased its military presence and activity in the Far East. This fact causes an alarm, taking into account the interests of Japan's security," NHK television quoted Onodera as saying.

Le Drian responded that Russia had already paid for the helicopter carriers and highlighted that "the ships have no armament and are built for transporting purposes." However, he argued: "France will agree if the European Union considers that the deal is to be affected by sanctions."

Onodera has called the deal "inexpedient in light of the current international situation."

Earlier this month, the US opposed to the French sale of the helicopter carriers to Russia.

"We have said that, given the current context, it's not the right timing for those types of transactions to move forward. We ourselves have put restrictions on certain high-tech materials that could go toward the Russian defense industry," US Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said.

A contract for two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to be built for Russia was signed in June 2011. In June 2014, French authorities confirmed France would meet its obligations under the contract worth $1.6 billion.

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