TOKYO (REUTERS) – Japan urged Russia to exclude areas around disputed northern islands from military drills Moscow is planning to conduct in the country’s Far East from late August, a Japanese government spokesperson said on Thursday (July 28).

Japan lays claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands that Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, a territorial row that dates back to the end of World War Two when Soviet troops seized them from Japan.

“We lodged a firm representation that the Northern Territories should be excluded from the areas for the drills,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki told a regular news conference.