'Totally unacceptable': Japan rejects Russia's halt to Kuril Islands peace talks

Moscow withdrew from talks after Tokyo imposed sanctions on Russia over Ukraine war.

'Totally unacceptable': Japan rejects Russia's halt to Kuril Islands peace talks

Japan on Tuesday rejected a Russian move to withdraw from peace talks over the disputed Kuril Islands and all related projects amid Tokyo's sanctions against Moscow.

"Russia's actions are extremely unreasonable and totally unacceptable," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the parliament, according to Kyodo News.

“All the current situations have originated from Russia’s aggression on Ukraine,” he added.

On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Japan’s “clearly unfriendly position,” which seeks to harm Russia’s interest, makes it impossible to sign a fundamental document on bilateral relations.

The ministry said it also terminated visa-free travel for Japanese nationals to the southern Kuril Islands and halted dialogue with Japan on establishing joint economic activities there.

“Japan’s stance to seek the settlement of the territorial issue and conclusion of a peace treaty with Russia remains unchanged,” said Kishida.

Tokyo also conveyed its stand on the disputed islands to Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin.

Japan joined its western allies in opposition to Russia's war on Ukraine, imposing sanctions on individuals, organizations, and companies, besides announcing export controls on its products to Russia.

Russia and Japan have not signed a peace treaty after World War II and have a territorial dispute over what Moscow calls the Kuril Islands, while Japan identifies them as the Northern Territories.

At the 1945 Yalta Conference, the Soviet Union agreed to start military operations on the eastern front under an agreement with its western allies, and in exchange, received some Japanese territories, including the Kuril Islands.

After the war, however, Japan rejected the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the islands.

Due to the dispute, Russia and Japan have never signed a peace treaty and are technically still at war. As both sides claim the territories, the question of the Kurils' sovereignty remains uncertain.

Tokyo regularly protests visits of Russian officials to the islands.

Russian authorities fear the possible deployment of US missile systems on the islands if they are returned to Japan, creating a direct military threat to Russia.