“Today, we planned with my colleagues, including ministers and deputy ministers, to visit the Kuril Islands…but the airport has been closed for several days because of weather so we’ll do it a bit later,” Medvedev said shortly before he set off for the Kurils.He urged the members of the government to visit the Kurils as “it is an important part of the Russian territory.”“We did it [visiting Kurils] before and this practice will definitely be continued by the new Cabinet,” the premier said.
Medvedev sparked a diplomatic row with Tokyo in November 2010 by making the first visit ever by a Russian leader to the Kuril Islands.He later said Russia would increase its military presence there. Japan’s then-prime minister, Naoto Kan, called Medvedev’s visit an “inexcusable rudeness.”
Moscow has been offering Tokyo cooperation in the region under the condition that Japan drops its territorial dispute and focuses on developing Russian-Japanese economic ties.
Russia and Japan have yet to sign a formal peace treaty ending World War II hostilities, due to the dispute over the four South Kuril Islands, former Japanese territory annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of the war.The territorial dispute over the islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, has clouded relations between Moscow and Tokyo for decades.
NHK reports Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has arrived on one of four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.Russia’s state-run news agency reported that Medvedev, who’s now on a tour of the country’s Far East, landed on Kunashiri Island on Tuesday.He is expected to inspect an airport, a sea port, a power plant and other facilities.President Vladimir Putin expressed willingness to resolve decades-long territorial dispute with Japan in March, before his second term in the post.Putin and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda last month agreed to resume stalled negotiations over the islands.
The islands were seized by Soviet forces weeks after Japan’s surrender in World War 2.
Russia recognized the islands as Japan’s territory under an 1855 treaty. Japan says they are not part of the Kuril Islands that Japan renounced under the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Moscow never signed the document.Putin says the 4 islands became Russia’s territory as a result of World War Two.
In a recent interview with international media, Putin acknowledged that the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration calls for Moscow to return 2 of the islands once a peace treaty is signed. But he said the document does not mention any other territorial demands. Putin also expressed a wish to end the territorial dispute in a way acceptable to both sides.The 1993 Tokyo Declaration calls for the 2 sides to conclude a peace treaty by resolving the issue based on past agreements and documents as well as law and justice. The declaration was signed by then Japanese prime minister Morihiro Hosokawa and then Russian president Boris Yeltsin when he visited Japan.