Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has ignored some questions from reporters over Russia's strong stance in negotiations with Japan on a territorial issue.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Kono was asked for his views on remarks by senior Russian officials.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has suggested that his country cannot move the negotiations forward unless Japan admits that the 4 islands, which it calls the Northern Territories, became Russian territory as a result of World War Two.
Russia controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory and were illegally occupied after the war.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev has also indicated that his country will take a tough stance in the talks.
When asked for a comment on the matter, Kono gave no answer and said, "Next question please" 4 times.
When reporters asked whether he thinks such a response is appropriate, Kono explained that he wants to set up a calm environment for the talks.
Kono frequently asks for understanding, saying that he declines to elaborate on the details of government negotiations to avoid unnecessary speculation.
But observers say his attitude of ignoring questions could draw criticism.