By MARI YAMAGUCHI
TOKYO (AP) — Japan has criticized Russia’s suspension of an agreement allowing Japanese to fish in waters near disputed islands as relations between the countries deteriorate over the war in Ukraine. The fishing deal has been in place since 1998 and allows Japanese fishing boats to operate around the Russian-held Kurils, which Japan also claims and calls the Northern Territories, in exchange for payments from Japan based on catch quotas. The suspension is apparently in response to Japan’s sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. It raises concern about the safety of Japanese fishing boats in the area. Prior to the agreement, Russian authorities had seized and sometimes shot at Japanese boats. Japan’s government spokesperson says Tokyo will pursue negotiations with Moscow.