Japan deplores Russia's decision to end peace talks on occupied islands over Ukraine

Japan and Russia have for years attempted to reach agreement on a post-World War II treaty, but the status of four islands held by Moscow and claimed by Tokyo have been a key sticking point

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, March 22, 2022, 11:42 AM IST
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The Kuril Islands with Russian names. Borders of Shimoda Treaty (1855) and Treaty of St. Petersburg (1875) shown in red. Since 1945 all islands northeast of Hokkaido have been administered by Russia. | Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday, Japan denounced Russia on Tuesday over its decision to discontinue peace treaty talks over the disputed Kuril islands and withdraw from joint economic projects in retaliation for Tokyo’s sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

"The latest situation occurred as a result of Russia's aggression against Ukraine, and Russia's attempt to shift the issue to Japan-Russia relations is extremely unjustified and absolutely unacceptable," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in parliament.

Japan "strongly protests," he added, condemning Russia for its actions to "unilaterally change the status quo by force."

Japan and Russia have for years attempted to reach agreement on a post-World War II treaty, but the status of four islands held by Moscow and claimed by Tokyo have been a key sticking point.

The islands were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War Two, and Russia claims the acquisition was as fair as any international change of boundaries after the war. Japan has disputed this.

Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe pushed hard for progress in talks with Russia, but years of efforts have so far produced little agreement on the disputed islands, which Moscow calls the Kurils and Tokyo the Northern Territories.

But overnight Russia said it would drop the talks, citing the "impossibility" of continuing discussions "with a country that has taken an openly hostile position and is striving to cause harm to the interest of our country."

Moscow said it was also ending a visa-free regime for Japanese people to visit the disputed islands and was pulling out of talks on joint economic activity there.

The latest situation has been all caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Tuesday.

He called Russia’s response extremely unjustifiable and absolutely unacceptable.

Japan has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia in recent weeks, including freezing some individual assets, banning exports of luxury goods and high-technology equipment to the country and revoking Russia’s most favoured nation trade status.

In addition, Japan has imposed tranches of sanctions on 76 Russian individuals, seven banks, and 12 other bodies, including defence officials and the state-owned arms exporter, Rosoboronexport.

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