Japan protests Russian military drills on disputed Kuril Islands

The Russian military on Tuesday launched an exercise on Etorofu and Kunashiri, two of the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan, according to the Interfax news agency. Some 500 troops from the machine gun and artillery units participated in the drill, including practicing the prevention of enemy landings, the Russian news agency said.

The exercise involved some 70 types of military equipment, including T-72 tanks and mortars. Moscow is strengthening its military capabilities on the four disputed islands, treating them as a major military foothold in Russia’s Far East.

Last week, the eastern district said it conducted a drill involving more than 350 troops on the Kuril Islands, which comprise an island chain called Chishima in Japan, and the four disputed islands.