MOSCOW, January 14 (Itar-Tass) —— Tokyo’s position on the Kurile Islands is not conducive to better relations between Russia and Japan, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Moscow “has noted Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba’s so-called ‘observation’ of the south Kurile Islands from aboard a Japanese Maritime Safety Agency ship in Japan’s territorial waters on January 14”, the ministry said.
“If this step was taken in order to stress the importance of broader mutually advantageous cooperation between neighbouring regions of Russia and Japan and give an additional boost to the progressive development of Russian-Japanese ties, such an intention can certainly be welcomed,” it said.
“If this ‘observation’ was designed to highlight once again Tokyo’s position on the ownership of the abovementioned Russian territories, which is unacceptable to us, this can hardly help strengthen the positive atmosphere in bilateral relations that has been developing lately,” the ministry said.
After observing the islands, Gemba called for the speediest resolution of the territorial dispute with Russia.
All Japanese who lived on the South Kurile Islands were deported to Japan when the Soviet Union took over these territories after the Second World War.
Gemba said he would like to have practical and serious talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on this issue.
However experts say no serious progress is likely to be achieved at the talks and the sides can only confirm their determination to look for a mutually acceptable solution.