Rus­sia PM vis­its dis­puted Kurils, trig­ger­ing protests from Ja­pan

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev landed Satur­day in the Kuril is­lands, prompt­ing a swift re­buke from Tokyo, which claims sovereignty over the north­west Pa­cific ar­chi­pel­ago in a long-run­ning dis­pute.

Medvedev vis­ited Itu­rup, one of four is­lands in the chain that lies off Rus­sia’s far eastern coast and just north of Ja­pan, Rus­sian media re­ports said.

“Ev­ery­thing is per­fectly mod­ern here,” Medvedev was quoted as say­ing on his ar­rival.

“This is the re­sult of our de­vel­op­ment pro­gram for the Kuril is­lands.”

Ha­jime Hayashi, the head of the Ja­panese for­eign min­istry’s Euro­pean di­vi­sion, phoned the Rus­sian am­bas­sador in Tokyo over the visit to the is­lands, which Ja­pan calls the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ries.

The trip “con­tra­dicts Ja­pan’s po­si­tion over the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ries and hurts the feel­ings of the Ja­panese peo­ple ... It is ex­tremely re­gret­table,” Hayashi said, quoted by a Ja­panese for­eign min­istry of­fi­cial.

Soviet troops seized the is­lands just af­ter Ja­pan sur­ren­dered in World War II.

The seven-decade-old dis­pute has ham­pered trade and pre­vented Moscow and Tokyo from sign­ing a for­mal post-war peace treaty.

Both the Krem­lin and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe had hoped to start mend­ing re­la­tions in or­der to re­vive trade, with Ja­pan seek­ing broader ac­cess to Rus­sia’s plen­ti­ful oil and nat­u­ral gas sup­plies.

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