• Kyodo, AFP-JIJI, JIJI

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Tokyo has lodged a protest with Moscow over its decision to expel eight Japanese diplomats, the government's top spokesman said Thursday, arguing that Russia is fully responsible for the deterioration of bilateral relations.

"We absolutely cannot accept Russia issuing the notice," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno at a regular news conference a day after Moscow's announcement, which has been viewed as retaliation for Tokyo's earlier expulsion of Russian diplomats.

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