The Japanese government has lodged a protest with Russia over Moscow’s plans to hold a military exercise in the area of the disputed Kuril Islands, referred to by Tokyo as the Northern Territories, the Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday, citing the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
“This does not correspond with our position regarding the Northern Territories”, the ministry’s representatives said, as quoted by the agency.
Tokyo reportedly sent its protests after Moscow informed it about the upcoming drills, due to be held on 4-12 April.
The agency noted that in March, Russia held drills in the Kuril islands area, too. The exercise involved around 500 people. The outlet suggested that the exercise was aimed at ensuring the dominating position in the bilateral talks on a peace treaty, which sought, among other things, to resolve the decades-long territorial dispute between the two states.
Russian-Japanese relations have long been complicated due to the fact that the two nations never signed a permanent peace treaty after the end of World War II. The deal has never been reached because of a disagreement over a group of four islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai — that Russia has sovereignty over, but that is also claimed by Japan.
Since last September, the sides have been engaged in talks on the peace treaty. The states have been committed to carrying out the talks on the basis of the 1956 bilateral declaration, which stipulates, among other things, that Japan will regain control over Habomai islets and Shikotan in the Kuril Islands archipelago following the conclusion of the peace treaty with Russia. The status of the islands of Kunashir and Iturup is not covered by the 1956 declaration.
Source: News Agencies