The Russian invasion of Ukraine may feel like a geographically and psychologically distant crisis for many in Japan, but in Hokkaido, a series of recent events have raised concerns and reminded residents of just how close they are to Russia.

While there was little local political or media reaction in Hokkaido on Friday to Thursday’s news that two Russian submarines had recently test-fired cruise missiles in the Sea of Japan, more visible demonstrations of Russian military power are generating concerns among residents. That is especially true in eastern Hokkaido, where four Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands are visible.

“In recent years, Russian military activities, including the deployment of state-of-the-art equipment and training exercises, have tended to increase in the vicinity of Japan,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters on Friday.