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Japan regrets Russia’s continued military drills in Kurils despite Tokyo’s protests

Hirokazu Matsuno reiterated that Tokyo would continue monitoring Russia’s activities near its borders

TOKYO, September 5. /TASS/. The Japanese government regrets Russia’s continued military exercise in the Southern Kurils, despite Tokyo’s consistent protests over the issue, Hirokazu Matsuno, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, told a regular news conference on Monday.

"It’s deeply regretful that, despite our protests, the Russian side has continued its drills in the Northern Territories (the Japanese name for the Southern Kurils - TASS)," Matsuno emphasized when responding to a reporters’ request to comment on the exercise to practice thwarting the landing of "enemy" paratroopers in the Kuril islands as part of Russia’s Vostok 2022 war games. The Japanese government is still demanding that Russia cancel the drills, Matsuno said.

The Japanese official recalled that Tokyo had in recent months repeatedly expressed its concerns through diplomatic channels and submitted its protests to Russia against Moscow's military activities near the Southern Kurils, with the latest one having been sent after the Russian Defense Ministry announced the drills on July 26. Matsuno reiterated that Tokyo would continue monitoring Russia’s activities near its borders, including the joint maneuvers of Russian and Chinese vessels in the Sea of Japan, closely.

In late July, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hit out at Japan’s "improper" attempt to protest against Russia’s military drills near the southern Kuril islands. The Southern Kurils are "an integral part of Russia" and their status is out of the question, the Russian diplomat added.

The Vostok 2022 strategic command and staff drills are running on September 1-7 under the command of the Chief of Russia’s General Staff to practice defensive and offensive operations at the Burduny, Goryachiye Klyuchi, Knyaze-Volkonsky, Lagunnoye, Sergeyevsky, Telemba and Uspenovsky training grounds of the Eastern Military District as well as in the maritime and coastal areas of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.

Moscow and Tokyo have been engaging in talks on hammering out a post-World War II peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The sovereignty of the Southern Kuril Islands remains the main obstacle. After the war, the entire archipelago became part of the Soviet Union, but Japan has challenged the sovereignty of the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of smaller uninhabited islands. Moscow has repeatedly stated that Russian sovereignty over these islands is cemented in international documents and cannot be challenged.