Japan reacts sharply to Russia scrapping agreements over four islands

Japan's top government spokesperson has reacted sharply to Russia's unilateral move to scrap bilateral agreements on four Russian-held islands. Russia controls the islands. Japan claims them.

Russia has scrapped the agreements that allow former Japanese residents to travel there without visas.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu told reporters on Tuesday that the Russian move is extremely unjust and unacceptable.

He said the government has lodged a strong protest with Russia despite not having received a notice from Moscow.

Matsuno also said that Russia is responsible for the current state of Japan-Russia relations, which makes it impossible to conduct exchanges between former Japanese residents and current Russian residents of the four islands.

He said the Japanese government still wants to do all it can to facilitate visits by former Japanese islanders, as they are getting old.