(Reuters) – Japan reacted angrily on Tuesday after Russia withdrew from peace treaty talks with Japan and froze joint economic projects related to the disputed Kuril Islands because of sanctions imposed by Tokyo over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia and Japan have still not formally ended World War II hostilities because of the standoff over islands just off Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories. The islands were seized by the Soviets at the end of World War II.
“Under the current conditions Russia does not intend to continue negotiations with Japan on a peace treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, citing Japan’s “openly unfriendly positions and attempts to damage the interests of our country.”
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he strongly opposed Russia’s decision, terming it “unfair” and “completely unacceptable.”
“This entire situation has been created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russia’s response to push this onto Japan-Russia relations is extremely unfair and completely unacceptable,” he said, adding that Japan’s attitudes towards seeking a peace treaty were unchanged and it had protested the Russian move.
“Japan must resolutely continue to sanction Russia in cooperation with the rest of the world,” he added.