Japan conveys concern to Russia over advancing military ties with N.Korea

A senior official of Japan's Foreign Ministry has urged Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine immediately, and expressed concern about Moscow's growing military ties with North Korea.

The Director-General of the ministry's European Affairs Bureau, Nakagome Masashi, met with the director of the third Asian department of Russia's foreign ministry, Lyudmila Vorobyova, in Moscow on Friday.

Japanese officials say this is the first time that the director-general of the Japanese foreign ministry has held talks with a Russian counterpart in Moscow since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Nakagome said relations between Japan and Russia face difficulties due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He called for an immediate halt, describing the invasion as a clear violation of international law.

Nakagome referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to North Korea earlier this week and signing of a new treaty that includes a pledge for mutual military support. The official conveyed concerns over enhancing military cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang.

Nakagome also discussed issues relating to the Northern Territories. He called for the resumption of a program that allows Japanese citizens to visit their ancestors' graves on the islands and the restart of an agreement to let Japanese fishing boats operate safely in the area.

Russia controls the four 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.

Russia's Foreign Ministry also announced that the foreign ministry officials of the two countries had brief talks on Friday.

The ministry said it gave the Japanese side a fundamental assessment of the current state of bilateral ties, which have degraded to an unprecedented low level due to what it called the hostile policy by Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio's administration.

The ministry also said a new package of sanctions against Russia, which was adopted by the Japanese government on Friday, was another step toward the complete destruction of bilateral relations.

The ministry said it warned Japan that Russia will continue to respond with the toughest countermeasures for Tokyo, guided solely by its own national interests.

The ministry also said it pointed out that Japan's attempts to "challenge" the development of a comprehensive strategic partnership between Russia and North Korea are categorically unacceptable.

It added that it conveyed to the Japanese side the content of President Putin's initiative to create a new continental security architecture in Eurasia.