Russia’s move on disputed islets leaves Japan fuming

Moscow’s move to declare 4 islands as tariff-free zones is deplorable, says Tokyo.

Russia’s move on disputed islets leaves Japan fuming

Japan on Thursday condemned Russia's “unilateral” move to declare disputed islands in the Sea of Okhotsk as tariff-free zones. 

“It is not in line with Japan’s position on the four islands or the aim of the joint economic activities the two sides have been discussing. It is deplorable,” said Hirokazu Matsuno, Japan’s top government spokesperson, at a news conference in Tokyo.

Amid war with Ukraine, Moscow has declared four Russian-held islands as tariff-free zones. Tokyo claims the islands are Japanese territory.

Tokyo has “conveyed its position on the matter to Russia”, Kyodo News quoted Matsuno as having said.

Tokyo and Moscow had been deliberating to establish joint economic activities on the disputed islands -- known as Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

The dispute over the islets, off Hokkaido province in Japan, has prevented Moscow and Tokyo, from signing a postwar peace treaty.