Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Tuesday that Tokyo had asked Russia to reduce its military activity on a disputed island chain in the Pacific after Moscow beefed up its forces there in response to what it sees as a potential threat.

The territorial dispute over the islands, known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, is so acrimonious that Moscow and Tokyo have not yet signed a peace treaty to mark the end of World War Two.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev approved the deployment of Russian warplanes on one of the disputed islands in February, accelerating the area’s militarization at a time when Moscow’s ties with Tokyo are strained over the roll-out of the Aegis U.S. missile system.

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