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Japan voices concern over Russia’s military activity on southern Kuril Islands

Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida made this statement after a 2+2 meeting of the defense and foreign ministers from both countries

TOKYO, March 20. /TASS/. Japan has voiced its concern over Russia’s military activity on the south Kuril Islands, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday.

Japan’s top diplomat made this statement after a 2+2 meeting of the defense and foreign ministers from both countries.

"I raised this issue at the meeting and also conveyed Japan’s concern to the Russian side," he said in response to a question about the deployment of missile systems on the islands and plans to deploy a division on the south Kurils.

The Japanese foreign minister said at the same time that he should refrain from disclosing the details of the discussion.

Russia deployed Bastion and Bal coastal defense missile systems on the southern Kuril Islands of Iturup and Kunashir in 2016. In 2015, Tor-M2U short-range antiaircraft missile complexes were put on combat duty there. Now Russia is studying the option of creating a Pacific Fleet base on the islands of the Greater Kuril Ridge.

Also, the Russian defense minister said in February that there were plans to finish work this year to create four new divisions, including for the protection of the Kuril Islands.

This statement was negatively perceived by Tokyo and the Japanese government sent Russia a protest noting that such strengthening of Russia’s military presence on the Kuril Islands did not correspond to Tokyo’s position on these territories.

As the Russian side has stated on numerous occasions, the deployment of troops and missiles on the Kurils is Russia’s sovereign right.

Russia and Japan have been negotiating since the middle of the 20th century a peace treaty after World War II. The main obstacle is the problem of the south Kuril Islands. The archipelago became the territory of the USSR after the war. Japan, however, disputes the Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai status.

In 1956, Russia and Japan inked a declaration, which put an end to the state of war between the countries and restored diplomatic and other relations. But the issue of the border near the Kuril Islands remained unsettled then. At the same time, the Soviet Union expressed a goodwill gesture in the declaration to give Shikotan and Habomai to Japan after a peace treaty was signed.