Japan has officially designated Russia's Southern Kuril Islands as illegally occupied northern territories. Japan has made such a decision for the first time since 2003. This term was mentioned in Japan's Diplomatic Bluebook (an annual report on Japan's Foreign Policy and Activities published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan — ed.) which was submitted to the Japanese government from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country, RIA Novosti reports.
The document also states that the islands are part of the territory of Japan. For the past few years, Tokyo has been talking about the Kuril Islands as a territory to which Japan's sovereignty extends.
The Japanese side announced such terms for the first time in several years on March 31.
Aleksey Chepa, First Deputy Chief of the State Duma Committee on International Affairs, suggested that Japan's decision to revisit the wording of the past was made due to USA's pressure on Tokyo. Such actions may negatively affect relations between Moscow and Tokyo and complicate the signing of the peace treaty with Japan. According to Chepa, such wording is unacceptable.
All the four islands of the southern part of the Kurils are an inalienable part of Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said commenting on Tokyo's statements about the "occupied" territories of the Kuril Islands, TASS report.
"All the four islands are an inalienable territory of the Russian Federation,” Peskov said. Japan has become an unfriendly state to Russia, he then added.
More than a thousand servicemen of the army corps of the Eastern Military District (VVO) of the Russian Armed Forces kicked off military exercises on the Kuril Islands with the use of anti-tank missile systems and artillery pieces. About 200 pieces of military hardware were involved in the maneuvers, including Orlan-10 and Eleron-3 drones.
On March 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that Moscow refused to enter into peace treaty negotiations with Japan. In addition, Russia was ending the dialogue on establishing Russia-Japan joint economic activities on the Southern Kurils. The ministry condemned the actions of the Japanese authorities and pointed to the unfriendly nature of Tokyo's unilateral restrictions against Russia. The Russian side also decided to cancel visa-free entry for Japanese citizens to the islands.
Earlier, Japan imposed another package of sanctions against Russia. The list included 15 individuals and nine enterprises. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, as well as eight deputy defense ministers were among the sanctioned officials. On March 16, Japan revoked Russia's most-favored-nation status against the backdrop of events in Ukraine. This measure will deprive Russia of Tokyo's trade preferences, Japanese officials said.
At the same time, large Japanese manufacturers refused to leave the Russian market following the example of American and European companies. In particular, Mitsui and Mitsubishi decided not to pull out from the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, in which they act as shareholders.
The British press has recently reported that Russia was going to conduct a nuclear test either on the borders with Ukraine or in the Black Sea.