TOKYO, June 17. /TASS/. The Japanese government has expressed its regret over Russia’s upcoming military exercise, scheduled as reported on Iturup Island (part of the Southern Kuril Islands challenged by Japan), Japan’s Yomiuri daily said on Sunday, adding that the Russian Foreign Ministry had been notified via the Japanese Embassy in Moscow.
According to this report, the Russian side has dismissed Tokyo’s statement, stressing that the exercise is held within Russia’s borders. Tass has failed to get Japanese Foreign Ministry’s comments on the issue.
The newspaper says the Russian side notified the Japan Coast Guard on June 14 of its upcoming missile-firing exercises on Iturup, due on June 18-21. The agency is said to have warned shipping companies and fishermen of the military drill.
On June 11, the Japanese government said it had lodged protest against Russia’s laying a fiber optic cable to the Southern Kuril Islands, which Tokyo calls its Northern Territories.
Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ending the state of war, but no peace treaty has been signed so far.