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TOKYO, September 12 (Itar-Tass) — The Japanese government has expressed regret over a working visit Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev paid to the South Kuriles, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.
“This runs counter to our country’s positions and causes sincere regret,” he said. Tokyo views trips by Russian officials to the South Kuriles as measures aimed at emphasising its sovereignty over these islands.
In this connection the Japanese chief cabinet secretary said that Moscow and Tokyo are negotiating a peace treaty, which, despite the end of World War II, is not concluded yet. “Our countries intend, based on all the previously reached agreements, to resolve the territorial dispute and conclude a peace treaty,” Fujimura said. “Our country considers a visit to the Northern Territories by a key Russian government official unacceptable,” the chief Cabinet secretary said in a news conference, a day after Patrushev visited the islands of Kunashiri and the Habomai group of islets, the Kyodo news agency reported.
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev on Sunday paid a working visit to the town of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on the Kunashir Island where he held a meeting with the Sakhalin region leadership on issues of ensuring security in the region progress of the construction of a number of civilian and border infrastructure facilities. In particular, the meeting participants discussed security issues in the construction and operation of the port berth complex of Yuzhno- Kurilsk and reconstruction of Mendeleyevo airport. Patrushev also held a meeting with the leadership of the Border Guard Service of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and inspected a number of facilities of the Sakhalin Coast Guard department of the FSB of Russia, including the border post on the Tanfilyev Island.
According to Kyodo, Tokyo and Moscow remain at odds over the sovereignty of the islands of Iturup (Etorofu), Kunashir (Kunashiri) and Shikotan as well as the Habomai islet group, which Soviet troops seized at the end of World War II. The row over the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils, has prevented the two nations from signing a post-war peace treaty.
Fujimura said Japan will convey its position to Russia and underscored the importance of negotiating “in good faith” to resolve the territorial issue. Sunday's trip by Patrushev came at a time when Russia is intensifying activities in relation to the disputed islands. Last week, two Russian bombers flew near Japanese airspace, prompting Japan's foreign minister to ask Russia not to take “provocative” military actions.
The Kuril Islands dispute, also known as the Northern Territories dispute between Japan and Russia is over sovereignty over the South Kuril Islands. The disputed islands, which were occupied by Soviet forces during the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of World War II, are under Russian administration as South Kuril District of the Sakhalin Oblast, but are claimed by Japan, which refers to them as the Northern Territories, being part of the Nemuro Sub-prefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan from 1951 states that Japan must give up all claims to the Kuril islands, but it also does not recognise the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the Kuril Islands. Furthermore, Japan currently claims that at least some of the disputed islands are not a part of the Kuril Islands, and thus are not covered by the treaty. Russia maintains that the Soviet Union's sovereignty over the islands was recognised following agreements at the end of the Second World War. However, Japan has disputed this claim. The disputed islands are: Iturup/Etorofu Island, Kunashir/Kunashiri Island, Shikotan Island and Habomai rocks/Habomai Islands.
On 10 February 2011, Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev called for increased military deployments on Kuril Islands. In making the statement, Medvedev said the islands were an “inseparable” part of the country and a strategic Russian region. No direct reference was made to what military equipment would be deployed on the islands, although local media reported that the new Mistral-class amphibious assault ships, being built in a deal with France, would be deployed to the region. On 15 February, plans for deploying advanced anti-air missiles systems on the Islands were announced.