(QHA) -

Japan will lodge a "strong protest" with Russia over military exercises reportedly being held on the disputed Kuril islands, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday.

"I can't accept this at all," he told reporters in response to questions about the drills. "We will lodge a strong protest against Russia through the foreign ministry," Abe added, according to Jiji Press news agency.

But the foreign ministry could not immediately confirm if Russia was carrying out drills on the long-contested islands, which are located off Russia's far eastern coast and just north of Japan.

The exercises came after Russia scrapped a meeting with a Japanese minister in response to a new round of sanctions by Tokyo against senior figures involved in the annexation of Crimean peninsula.

Russia and Japan are in dispute over four of the southernmost islands in the Kuril Archipelago that fell under Soviet control after WW2.

The territorial dispute prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty and relations are still regulated under the armistice.