Russia Irked by Japanese Statements on Long-Disputed Islands

russia japan
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at a delegation meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry says it has summoned the Japanese ambassador over recent statements from Tokyo about disputed Pacific islands.

The Soviet Union took the four southernmost Kuril Islands during the final days of World War II. Japan asserts territorial rights to the islands, which it calls the Northern Territories.

The decades-long dispute has kept Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have agreed to resume discussions on a 1956 Soviet proposal to return two of the islands to Japan.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry alleged Wednesday that recent Japanese government statements represented an apparent attempt to “artificially incite the atmosphere regarding the peace treaty problem and try to enforce its own scenario of settling the issue.”