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Russia said on Tuesday it was suspending an agreement with Japan that allowed Japanese fishermen to fish near the disputed Southern Kuril islands, saying Tokyo had failed to make payments required 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,” foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

A territorial dispute over the islands, known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories, dates back to the end of World War 2 when Soviet troops seized them from Japan. The row has prevented the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty.

In October, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan’s sovereignty extends to the four islands: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, which lie at their closest point just a few kilometres off the north coast of Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands.

Russia suspended the fishing agreement as Japanese and defence alliance Nato officials agreed on Tuesday to step up military co-operation and joint exercises amid shared concerns  over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Japanese defence minister Nobuo Kishi said Japan hopes to strengthen ties with European countries and welcomed Nato's  expanded involvement in the Indo-Pacific region, reports said. With Staff Writer



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