TOKYO, Japan: Even as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Japan, has again raised its territorial dispute with Moscow, describing four islands as “illegally occupied by Russia.”
The strong language used by Tokyo, in its 2022 Diplomatic Bluebook released last week by the Foreign Ministry, is in stark contrast to the softer tone it had adopted to earlier describe the dispute.
“The Northern Territories are a group of islands Japan has sovereignty over and an integral part of Japan’s territory, but currently they are illegally occupied by Russia,” the ministry stated in the report.
The disputed islands, seized by the former Soviet Union, which Russia calls the ‘Kurils,’ have prevented the two countries from formally ending their World War II hostilities.
Japan is locked in another territorial dispute on its eastern seaboard with South Korea. Japan’s Foreign Ministry has stated that the island that Tokyo calls ‘Takeshima’ is “illegally occupied” by South Korea, which has named it ‘Dokdo’.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry has stated that Japan’s repeated sovereignty claims over the island are unjust and that it remains an integral part of Seoul’s territory. It has further stated that this situation will mar future relations between the two countries. Ties between Japan and South Korea have often been strained by historical issues.
Meanwhile, Japan has joined the Group of Seven countries in imposing a series of sanctions against Russia because of the impact of the Ukrainian invasion on East Asian countries.
In retaliation, Russia recently announced the suspension of peace treaty talks with Tokyo, which included negotiations over the disputed islands.
Japan also seeks to revise its national security strategy later this year, of which bolstering its defense capability and budget will be a key component.