According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces will now operate from a base in Vladivostok, less than 100 miles from the border with North Korea.
The release from the ministry states:
According to the international cooperation plan of the Russian Armed Forces, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ship detachment including destroyer Harusame and training ship Kashima, is to arrive in Vladivostok in mid-October.
The Japanese seamen are to see the sights of the city, and visit military historical museum of the Pacific Fleet and the Patriot Park. They will also lay wreaths to the Pacific Fleet Combat Glory Memorial, and visit a warship of the Fleet.
This is a significant development for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Vladivostok’s proximity to Sonbong, North Korea. The northern port city is a vital transportation hub between North Korea and both China and Russia, and is also home to a major electrical power plant.
This announcement is also significant because Japan and Russia are still technically at war because the Japanese Empire and the Soviet Union never signed a formal peace treaty at the end of World War II. Instead, they each signed off on an agreement over which islands in the Kurile chain belonged to each country, as well as an end to hostilities.
It also sends a mixed message to Kim Jong-un over which side Russia might take if war does break out against the U.S. and its allies in the region.