The Japanese government says it has filed a protest with Russia over its deployment of fighter jets to one of the 4 Russian-controlled islands claimed by Japan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke to reporters on Monday, 3 days after news media in Russia's Far East reported that the fighters had been sent to an airport on Etorofu Island on a trial basis.
Suga said the government has been closely monitoring the Russian military's moves in the Northern Territories. He said officials told Russia that if the news reports are true, the action runs counter to Japan's position on the islands and is extremely regrettable.
Suga said the territorial dispute must be settled to resolve the matter fundamentally.
He said the government will continue to vigorously press for talks with Russia based on its basic policy. According to that policy, the issue of the islands' sovereignty must be settled before a peace treaty can be signed.
Russia controls the 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.