TOKYO, July 4 (Itar-Tass) — The Japanese government feels “uttermost regret” in connection with a trip of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the disputed Kunashir Island. According to Tokyo, the trip took place at the moment when “a positive atmosphere” was developing in the dialogue of the two countries, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a news conference on Wednesday.
In reply to journalists’ queries, Fujimura refused to comment on the words of Prime Minister Medvedev, who said the Kuril Islands “is our land”. “The Japanese government does not reply to each statement,” Fujimura said.
At the same time, the chief cabinet secretary once again noted that the visit of the Russian prime minister to the South Kuril Island of Kunashir is at variance with the stance of Japan, which calls the South Kuril Islands its Northern Territories.
He said Japan “feels uttermost regret as the visit took place in conditions when a positive atmosphere was developing in the dialogue of the two countries”. “It is necessary to settle the problem of the Northern Territories so that this does not happen anymore,” Fujimura said.
On Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba also expressed discontent in connection with the trip of the Russian prime minister to the South Kuril Island of Kunashir. He said this disagrees with the position of Tokyo, which deems this island its northern territory.
“This trip disagrees with our position: we regard Kunashir as a part of the Japanese northern territories,” he said.
Japanese First Deputy Foreign Minister Kenichiro Sasae summoned Russian Ambassador to Japan Yevgeny Afanasyev on Tuesday to express regret over the Kunashir trip of Medvedev. The Japanese Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass the term “protest” was not used in that conversation.
Afanasyev presented the Russian position on the South Kuril Islands and bilateral relations with Japan. He told reporters after the meeting that Russian leaders were free to choose the routes of their domestic travels.