"We always closely follow Russia's actions in the area of the Northern Territories [South Kuril islands]. On October 16, we have expressed protest [to Moscow] via diplomatic channels over the upcoming missile exercises because they are leading to an increased military presence on the four northern islands, which contradicts our country's position," Suga said at a press conference.
In response to Japan's repeated protests, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russia had the sovereign right to carry out any activities on its territory.
The South Kuril Islands dispute has long prevented the two countries from signing a permanent peace treaty after the end of World War II. The islands of Habomai, Shikotan, Iturup and Kunashir have been claimed by both nations, with the territories currently governed by Moscow.
However, recently, the bilateral relations have significantly improved, with the two nations launching joint economic activities in the region and committing themselves to progress toward signing the peace treaty.