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Military exercises on South Kurils unacceptable — Japanese foreign minister

In June, Japan expressed regret to Russia over military exercises on the Iturup Island

TOKYO, July 30. /TASS/. Military exercises on the South Kuril islands are unacceptable in Japan’s point of view, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told TASS in an interview before leaving for Russia on Monday for two-plus-two talks between the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers.

"Japan and Russia adhere to different viewpoints regarding the sovereignty over the four islands. There exist many problems that will have to be overcome. We keep telling the Russian side military exercises and the laying of an optical fiber line on the islands is unacceptable from our point of view. For the cardinal solution of such problems it is necessary to conclude a peace treaty by settling the issue of sovereignty over the four islands," he said.

The Japanese government in June expressed regret to Russia over military exercises on the Iturup Island. In the same month Japan lodged a protest with Russia over the laying of an optical fiber line to the South Kuril islands.

Moscow and Tokyo have conducted consultations for many decades in order to draft a peace treaty on the results of World War II. Sovereignty over the South Kurils is the stumbling block: after the war the whole archipelago was taken over by the Soviet Union, but Tokyo disputes sovereignty over Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the group of islands called Habomai in Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has said more than once that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands was formalized in accordance with international law and remains unquestionable.