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Moscow on Tuesday accused Tokyo of “Russophobia” and “immoral attacks” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – which the Kremlin officially describes as a “special military operation”.

The two countries have been feuding for decades over the status of the Kuril Islands. The Soviet military occupied the island archipelago during World War II, but Japan claims four of the islands it calls its “Northern Territories.” Despite the bilateral consultations that followed, the two sides failed to resolve their differences and formally sign a peace treaty.

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Japan – which followed in the footsteps of Western powers and imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine – celebrates “Northern Territories Day” every year on February 7 to remind its citizens of that territorial claim.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said this year’s event was “marked by particularly intense Russophobia,” citing statements by officials and “immoral attacks” by far-right activists near Russian diplomatic missions. “We noticed that this time the baseless territorial claims on the Kuril Islands were accompanied by immoral attacks against Russia in relation to the situation in Ukraine,” Zakharova said.

Russia maintains a military force on the islands, which have a population of about 20,000.

The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the Japanese government of trying to rewrite history, defying the post-war reality.

So far there is no reaction from Japan’s foreign ministry.

Last month, Tokyo expanded the sanctions it has imposed on Moscow, adding goods to an export ban list and freezing the assets of Russian officials and entities. Following this, the Russian government warned Tokyo about the deterioration of its relations with Moscow.