TOKYO, February 7. /TASS/. Japan protested Russia’s anti-terrorism exercises currently being held on the Kuril Islands, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told a committee meeting of the Japanese parliament’s lower chamber.
"This contradicts our country’s stance regarding the four northern Islands [southern part of Russia’s Kuril archipelago], we have lodged a protest," the Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.
"The northern territories are our country’s genuine territories," Kono said, adding that the Japanese government will continue intense negotiations with Russia on the issue.
The Russian embassy in Tokyo was not immediately available for a comment.
The Russian Eastern Military District’s press service earlier said about 2,000 servicemen and about 500 military vehicles and aircraft are taking part in the exercises to train operations against illegal armed formations. The drills will continue until the end of the week.
Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the middle of last century. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of sovereignty 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 challenged by Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated on numerous occasions that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt.