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MOSCOW, August 7. /TASS/. The Russian-Japanese consultations on the joint economic activity on the southern Kuril Islands will be held in Moscow on August 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported following Monday’s talks between the two countries’ Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono on the sidelines of ASEAN events in Manila.
"The two sides agreed to hold another round of consultations on the joint economic activity on the southern Kuril Islands on August 17 in Moscow and continue the Russian-Japanese dialogue on strategic stability at the level of deputy foreign ministers (August 18, Moscow)," the ministry said.
Lavrov and Kono also exchanged views on "development of bilateral ties and pressing problems with an emphasis on security issues in Northeast Asia."
Japan’s new Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Tetsuma Esaki has admitted to not being an expert in the territorial issue, the Japanese Mainichi daily reported on Monday.
According to the daily, while talking to reporters during a visit to his electoral district in the Aichi Prefecture, Esaki said that he was a layman as far as the "northern territories" [the way Japan refers to Russia’s South Kuril Islands - TASS] issue was concerned. "Since I am not an expert in the issue, I will have to learn more about it. [During parliamentary debates] I will carefully read out statements prepared by my office," the daily quoted Esaki as saying.
While commenting on this situation, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed that the statement had been made off the record. "Minister Esaki said that he did not think his words would be made public," Suga said at a press conference in Tokyo.
According to him, the minister has received a warning that he had to be more careful as reporters may make use of such off-the-record statements. However, Suga pointed out that Esaki’s dismissal was not currently under consideration.