Russia suspends agreement with Japan on fishing near Northern Territories

Russia's Foreign Ministry says it will suspend the implementation of a 1998 agreement with Japan that allows Japanese fishing boats to operate safely near the four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.

Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Tuesday that "Tokyo sticks to freezing payments stipulated by the agreement."

She also said, "In this situation we are forced to take a decision on suspension of implementing the agreement of 1998 until the Japanese side meets all its financial commitments."

The deal was signed to prevent fishery workers operating in waters near the islands from being detained by Russian authorities.

The two governments hold negotiations each year to decide the fishing period, size of catches and amount of money the Japanese side pays.

The agreement mainly covers walleye pollack, Okhotsk Atka mackerel and octopus.

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.