MOSCOW, July 24. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev "determines the routes of his trips around the country himself and needs no recommendations from outside," the premier’s spokesperson Natalya Timakova told TASS on Friday in connection with Medvedev’s forthcoming visit to the Kuril Islands.
She thus commented on the remarks by the Japanese foreign minister who said that "if the trip took place, this would run counter to Japan’s stance on the four northern islands and would also hurt the feelings of the Japanese citizens, which was unacceptable."
Medvedev earlier said that he planned to revisit the Kuril Islands and recommended his colleagues in the Cabinet to take up his lead. "Those who have not been there should go there. Anyway, I plan to travel there to see how things are going. And I invite others to do the same," the Russian premier told the government meeting.
The international department of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told TASS that Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida had sent the Russian prime minister a request via the Japanese Embassy in Moscow to cancel his trip to the Kuril Islands. A similar letter was sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Medvedev first visited the Kuril Islands in November 2010 during his presidential tenure. Until then, Russian leaders never visited the Kuril Islands. During his visit Medvedev inspected the geothermal plant, visited the facilities under construction and talked to the islands’ residents.
Medvedev flew to Kunashir again in July 2012, when he became Russia’s Prime Minister.
These trips were perceived negatively in Japan, which has contested Russian possession of the Southern Kurile Islands during the post-war era.
Meanwhile, Tokyo’s stance on the preparations for the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan due to take place before the end of the year has not changed. "The position of the Japanese government has not changed, as far as the visit of the Russian president is concerned. We are preparing for the visit and evaluate the current situation and the related factors," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga answering a question on whether Medvedev’s possible trip to the Kuril Islands will affect preparations for the forthcoming visit of the Russian leader to Japan.