TOKYO, March 13. /TASS/. The Japanese government notified Russia via diplomatic channels that Russia’s military exercises that began on Tuesday in the south of the Kuril Archipelago were inadmissible, a Japanese Foreign Ministry source told TASS on Wednesday.
"The diplomatic representation was made at the level of a counselor of our country’s embassy in Moscow and was addressed to the Russian Foreign Ministry," the official said. "The drills, as was already stated, will help to strengthen the Russian military contingent on the Northern Territories [Japan’s name for the Southern Kuril Islands]. This contradicts our country’s stance regarding those islands and is inadmissible."
Earlier, the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s press service told TASS that Tokyo closely followed Russia’s military actions in the south of the Kuril Islands and gathered information about Russian military maneuvers there.
Col. Alexander Gordeyev, a spokesman for Russia’s Eastern Military District, said that the district’s motorized rifle units began an opposing force exercise on Russia’s Iturup and Kunashir islands. The drills involved about 500 servicemen and up to 70 pieces of military hardware, including tanks, armored vehicles and mortars.
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, called the Northern Territories in Japan. 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 has been challenged by Japan.