The Russian Foreign Ministry says Tokyo failed to make payments under an agreement granting Japan fishing rights near the Kuril Islands.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it had suspended an agreement with Japan allowing Japanese fishermen to fish near the disputed southern Kuril Islands, accusing Tokyo of failing to make payments required under the agreement.
“In the current situation, we are forced to suspend the implementation of the 1998 agreement until the Japanese side fulfills all its financial obligations,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Tuesday.
The chain of volcanic islands, dubbed the Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan, are at the center of a decades-long dispute between the two countries that prevented them from signing a formal World War II peace treaty.
Moscow regards the strategic archipelago – which separates the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean – as its own, while Tokyo says the four islands belong to Japan and were captured by the Soviet army in the closing days of the war.
In October, Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, said that Japan’s sovereignty extends to the four islands: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, which are located at their closest point just a few kilometers off the northern coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost. The main islands.
The Kremlin denounced the claim.
Moscow’s announced suspension of the fishing pact comes as Japanese and NATO officials agreed on Tuesday to step up military cooperation and hold joint exercises amid shared concerns that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is worsening the security environment in Europe and Asia.
Japan quickly joined forces with the United States and Europe in imposing sanctions on Russia, including freezing the assets of Russian officials and billionaires, restricting trade and investment, and providing support to Ukraine, after the invasion of Moscow in February.
In May, Prime Minister Kishida said Japan would ban imports of Russian crude oil “in principle” and had already announced a phase-out of Russian coal imports.
Japan and NATO intensify relations
At the beginning of his meeting with NATO Military Committee Chairman Rob Power on Tuesday, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said that Japan hopes to strengthen relations with European countries and welcomes NATO’s expanded participation in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The security of Europe and Asia are closely intertwined, especially now with the international community facing serious challenges,” Keshi said.
Power’s visit to Tokyo comes as Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force takes part in NATO naval exercises in the Mediterranean.
Also on Tuesday, Japan’s Defense Ministry announced that Japanese and US combat aircraft conducted joint flight exercises over the Sea of Japan “amid an increasingly dangerous security environment, such as North Korea’s frequent ballistic missile launches.”
The four islands are at the center of the dispute between Moscow and Tokyo to the southeast of the Russian island of Sakhalin and are administratively part of the same region.
Strategically, control of the islands guarantees Russia year-round access to the Pacific for its Pacific fleet of warships and submarines based in Vladivostok, where the strait between the islands of Kunashir and Iturup does not freeze in winter.
Russia has military bases in the archipelago and deploys missile systems on the islands.
With a population of nearly 20,000, the islands are rich in hot springs, minerals and rare earth minerals such as rhenium, which is used in the production of supersonic aircraft.
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