TOKYO, August 5. /TASS/. The Japanese government has voiced protest to Moscow over the shooting exercises conducted by the Russian military near Kunashir Island, part of the Southern Kuril Islands, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.
"We are collecting information about this. Since this is linked to Russia’s growing military presence on the four Northern Islands [the way Tokyo calls the Southern Kuril Islands] and runs counter to our position on these islands, we expressed protest via diplomatic channels," he said.
Sankei newspaper reported that Russia had notified Japan about conducting shooting exercises near Kunashir Island on August 5-10. Tokyo has repeatedly voiced protest to Russia in connection with this shooting. In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the growing number of complaints by Japanese diplomats over the Russian military’s steps in the Southern Kuril Islands do not encourage forming a positive climate in bilateral ties.
For decades, Moscow and Tokyo have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II. The main stumbling block is the status of the Southern Kuril Islands. After World War II, the whole archipelago became part of the Soviet Union. However, Tokyo disputes Russian claims over Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan islands as well as a number of smaller uninhabited islands called the Habomai Islands in Japan. Moscow has reiterated that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands cannot be called into question.