MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia plans to build 51 more pieces of military infrastructure on the Kuril islands, the state TASS news agency quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying on Monday.
Part of the chain is claimed by Japan and the territorial dispute over some of the islands dates back to the time when the then-Soviet Union seized them at the end of World War Two, and has kept the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty.
The ministry said in a statement it has erected more than 30 buildings on the islands, including seven living quarters for military servicemen on Iturup and Kunashir islands claimed by Japan and known as the Northern Territories there.
It provided no details on what kinds of buildings it planned to build in the coming years.
Last month Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited the Kuril islands and declared that the country wanted to open free trade zone(FRZ).
Mishustin was on a tour to Russia’s Far East and Siberia with the Kuril Islands being his first stop.
The Russian prime minister proposed exempting the islands from customs duty and reducing taxes for businesses.
The Kremlin said Mishustin visits regions “as he sees fit” after it drew protests from Japan. Three years ago President Vladimir Putin suggested that Russia and Japan should sign a peace treaty but the proposal was rejected by Japanese officials who said the two countries should resolve the dispute first.
Japan claims the islands naming it as northern territory which includes four southernmost islands including Iturup and Kunashir.
According to Japanese media, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was in favor of an early meeting between President Putin and PM Yoshihide Suga after Mishustin’s recent trip.
“It is necessary to declare to the Russian side that we not only protest but are overwhelmed with fury, as well as to clearly point to the inadmissibility of what happened,” the head of the party’s Committee on Territories Yoshitaka Shindo said as Japan’s foreign ministry summoned Russian Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin.