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Japan "strongly protests" against Russian exercises on disputed isles

Published on Aug 13, 2014 4:37 PM

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan "strongly protested" on Wednesday against Russian military exercises on Pacific islands that it also claims and which have been at the root of strained relations between the two countries since the end of World War II.

The exercises on the disputed islands are a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to court resource-rich Russia and keep the door open to dialogue, despite the Ukraine crisis.

Russia seized the islands from Japan in the waning days of WWII and the dispute over them has prevented the neighbours from signing a formal peace treaty.

The islands are known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. "Carrying out this sort of exercises in the Northern Territories is totally unacceptable," Mr Abe told reporters.

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