A protester holds placards during a rally against the deployment of THAAD, a U.S. missile defense system on the Korean Peninsula, in front of the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, April 10, 2015. (Xinhua/Seongbin Kang)
MOSCOW, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- The possible deployment of the THAAD missile shield in Japan will strengthen the U.S. global missile defense system, much to Moscow's displeasure, a Russian expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.
"Russia is worried about the deployment of THAAD in Japan because the entire Far East will be covered by powerful U.S. radars," said Valery Kistanov, head of the Japanese Studies Center at the Far Eastern Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
THAAD, the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile interception system, can peer deeply into the territories of China and Russia with its AN/TPY-2 radar, breaking the strategic balance in the region and boosting an arms race.
While part of the THAAD system has been installed in South Korea despite strong protests by local residents, Japanese officials have expressed an interest in introducing the missile shield.
The United States is strengthening its missile defense in Europe west of Russia and in South Korea and Japan to the east, encircling Russia like pincers, Kistanov told Xinhua.
"In this case, Russia will opt for an even closer partnership with China in terms of countering Japanese-U.S. cooperation in the field of missile defense," he said.
Russia and Japan both claim a group of islands off Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.
The decades-old territorial spat has prevented the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty and hindered their diplomatic and trade relations.
Amid rising tensions in Northeast Asia, Russia is beefing up its military hardware on the disputed islands, but Japan opposes the strengthening of the Russian presence.
Japan's recently published white paper on defense reiterated that these islands are "illegally occupied," but Kistanov said Russia's sovereignty is ensured by a number of international legal documents and without doubt.
"The United States shares the responsibility for creating this territorial problem ... It is not interested in signing a peace treaty between Russia and Japan," said the Russian expert.
Washington has always acted in accordance with the "divide and rule" principle, and the absence of a peace treaty and the existence of a territorial dispute make Japan a more manageable country, he said.
"The United States will continue to insist that the peace treaty be signed only after Russia gives all the four islands to Japan. But this is unrealistic," said Kistanov.