Russia suspends fishing agreement with Japan near disputed islands

Russia has suspended an accord with Japan that allowed Japanese fishing vessels to operate near the disputed Southern Kuril islands over claims that Tokyo has failed to make the required payments under the deal.

“In the current situation, we are forced to suspend the implementation of the 1998 Agreement until the Japanese side fulfils all its financial obligations,” Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Russia suspended the fishing deal in the wake of a decision by Japan and its allies in NATO to increase their military co-operation and joint exercises as the international community seeks to put pressure on Russia over its ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Tokyo has condemned Moscow for suspending the agreement, calling the situation “regrettable” after “Russia one-sidedly announced suspending the cooperation in this manner.” “We will do our utmost to protect the safety of the Japanese fishing operation,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Japan has sided with the US, Europe and others in imposing sanctions against Russia, including freezing assets, restricting trade and investment and, most recently, announcing plans to phase out Russian fossil fuel imports.

“The security of Europe and Asia are closely intertwined, especially now with the international community facing serious challenges,” Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said at the start of the meeting with NATO Military Committee Chief Rob Bauer on Tuesday.

The islands have been disputed territory since the end of the Second World War, after Russian troops seized control of them from Japan, preventing both sides from signing an official peace treaty.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in October that Japan’s territorial sovereignty extends to the four islands, known as Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, which are located close to the coast of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island.



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