Japan Protests Russia's Planned Live - Fire Drills

Japan protests Russia's planned live-fire drills

The Japanese government says it has lodged a protest with Russia over its plan to hold live-fire drills near one of the four islands controlled by Russia and claimed by Japan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga disclosed on Monday that the government had protested through a diplomatic channel immediately after Moscow notified Tokyo of the plan.

The Foreign Ministry says Russia gave notice last Thursday that its military would conduct the drills in waters near Kunashiri Island in the Northern Territories from Monday to Saturday.

Russia controls the four islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.

Suga said the exercises will lead to a Russian military buildup on the islands and they run counter to Japan's position on the territory. He said the government has also protested Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Etorofu, another of the four islands, last Friday. Suga criticized the visit for defying Japan's unchanging stance on the islands and hurting the feelings of the Japanese people.

He said arrangements are underway for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to attend the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East next month. Suga said the leaders of Japan and Russia should meet face-to-face, especially when the two sides are at odds.