Kuril Islands
Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) inspects a machine gun regiment during his visit to Iturup Island.Reuters

Russia has sparked fresh tensions with Japan following the commencement of building two modern military compounds on the far eastern Kuril islands which are claimed by Japan as its territory.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that his country is "actively carrying out construction of military compounds on the islands of Iturup and Kunashir", AFP reported.

Shoigu said at a meeting with military top brass that the new military buildings would help "raise the combat readiness of troops on the eastern frontiers of Russia."  Russia plans to put up 392 pre-fabricated buildings on the islands, including schools, kindergartens, leisure centres and dormitories, with construction work continuing through the winter.

"This year, the priority is finishing the most essential buildings and the engineering infrastructure" to receive troops and equipment, AFP cited Shoigu as saying. 

The Kuril chain  is known as the Northern Territories in Japan and Russia occupied it in the last days of World War II. Some 19,000 Russians live on the remote rocky islands. There is no official peace treaty between Russia and Japan, AFP said.

Earlier this month, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Tsalikov said: "Russia's Spetsstroy companies are carrying out massive work on construction of two military bases on the Kunashir and Iturup islands." 

According to the defence ministry, Tsalikov has visited the construction cites and urged the companies to expedite the work so that the bases would be built by the end of 2016.

"During the next year, the companies should finish work on construction of over 220 objects of civilian and military infrastructure,...including combat training facilities," the statement said, according to sputniknews.com.

In September Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the island of Iturup and surveyed troops there, angering Japan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has ruled out any compromise on the islands, telling his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in September that Tokyo must acknowledge "the postwar historical realities."

Russia has recently poured in investments to the region and reconstructed the Japanese-built airport on Kunashir, according to AFP.

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