March 22 (Reuters) – Japan reacted angrily on Tuesday after Russia withdrew from peace treaty talks with Japan and froze joint economic projects related to the disputed Kuril islands because of sanctions imposed by Tokyo over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia and Japan have still not formally ended World War Two hostilities because of the standoff over islands just off Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, known in Russia as the Kurils and in Japan as the Northern Territories. The islands were seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War Two.

Japan has imposed sanctions on 76 individuals, seven banks and 12 other bodies in Russia, most recently on Friday, and included defence officials and the state-owned arms exporter, Rosoboronexport. read more

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“Under the current conditions Russia does not intend to continue negotiations with Japan on a peace treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday, citing Japan’s “openly unfriendly positions and attempts to damage the interests of our country”.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he strongly opposed Russia’s decision, terming it “unfair” and “completely unacceptable”.

“This entire situation has been created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russia’s response to push this onto Japan-Russia relations is extremely unfair and completely unacceptable,” he said, adding that Japan’s attitudes towards seeking a peace treaty were unchanged and it had protested the Russian move.

“Japan must resolutely continue to sanction Russia in cooperation with the rest of the world,” he added.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Japan had lodged a protest with Russia’s ambassador in Tokyo.

Japan last week also announced plans to revoke Russia’s most-favoured nation trade status and ban imports of certain products. read more

Last year, President Vladimir Putin said that both Tokyo and Moscow wanted good relations and said it was absurd they had not reached a peace agreement. read more

Russia has also withdrawn from talks with Japan about joint business projects on the Kuril islands and ended visa-free travel by Japanese citizens, its foreign ministry said.

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Reporting by Reuters; additional reporting in Tokyo by Daniel Leussink and Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Michael Perry and Christian Schmollinger

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