The government has protested to Russia about military drills taking place on a group of islands over which Japan has a territorial claim, the top government spokesman said Thursday.
“Strengthening the military (presence) on the four islands is incompatible with Japan’s position,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference.
The large-scale drills are taking place across the Kuril island chain north of Japan, the southern portion of which Japan claims. Russia has conducted several drills in the past in the strategically important area.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to meet President Vladimir Putin in Russia next month to try to make progress on the territorial issue.
The islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and Southern Kurils in Russia, were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The disagreement over their sovereignty has kept Japan and Russia from signing a postwar peace treaty.
“In order to reach a fundamental solution, we must solve the territorial issue itself,” Suga said.
We will persevere in negotiating (with Russia) under our plan to resolve the issue of the islands’ sovereignty and sign the peace treaty,” he said.