Japan said on Tuesday it “strongly protests” Russia’s decision to abandon talks on a World War II peace treaty due to Tokyo’s strong reaction to the invasion of Ukraine.
“The latest situation arose as a result of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and Russia’s attempt to shift the issue to Japan-Russia relations is extremely unjustified and absolutely unacceptable,” the official said. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Parliament.
Japan “strongly protests”, he added, condemning Russia for its actions to “unilaterally change the status quo by force”.
Japan and Russia tried for years to reach a treaty agreement after World War II, but the status of four islands held by Moscow and claimed by Tokyo has been a key sticking point.
But overnight, Russia said it would abandon the talks, citing the ‘impossibility’ of continuing talks ‘with a country that has taken an openly hostile stance and is trying to harm our country’s interests’. .
Moscow said it was also ending a visa-free regime allowing Japanese people to visit the disputed islands and pulling out of talks on joint economic activity there.
Japan has walked alongside its Group of Seven allies in imposing harsh sanctions on Russian financial institutions and the country’s leaders.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing to advance talks with Russia, but years of efforts have so far yielded little agreement on the disputed islands, which Moscow calls the Kuril Islands and Tokyo Northern Territories.
Analysts say the lack of progress has allowed Tokyo to take tougher action against Russia than in the past, when the chances of a resolution seemed stronger.
“Japan’s position to resolve the issue of the Northern Territories to sign a peace treaty is unchanged,” Kishida said on Tuesday.
“But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine leaves us with no perspective on the matter,” he added.
He said it was also now “impossible” to imagine new economic cooperation with Russia, although Japan has not yet pulled out of major joint energy projects, seen as necessary for the resource-poor country.