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Moscow: Tokyo’s reaction to Russian leaders’ plans to visit Kuril Islands incites tensions

July 24, 2015, 16:21 UTC+3
Russian Foreign Ministry says the Russian leadership pays increased attention to social and economic development of this Russian region, and Russian officials will continue trips to these islands
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Iturup, Kuril Islands

Iturup, Kuril Islands

© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Sergeev

MOSCOW, July 24 /TASS/. Moscow will not take account of Tokyo’s stance in connection with Russian leaders’ plans to visit Kuril Islands, a diplomatic source told TASS commenting on Japan’s protest to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the Russian prime minister’s plans to pay a visit to Russia’s Kuril Islands.

"First of all, I would like to note that we have not received any ‘note of protest’. There was just an oral demarche by an employee of the Japanese embassy in Moscow who made a phone call to the third Asia department of the Russian Foreign Ministry," the diplomat explained.

He said the Japanese side had "expressed concern over the intention of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to visit Kuril Islands." The Russian Foreign Ministry replied that "the Russian leadership pays increased attention to the task of social and economic development of this Russian region, and Russian officials will continue trips to these (Kuril) Islands."

"We take no account of Tokyo’s stance and have no intention to do that in future. We also advised the Japanese side not to express such ‘concerns, which incite unnecessary tensions in bilateral relations, to us in future," the source stressed.

As it became known early on Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida had asked Medvedev to cancel his trip to Kuril Islands and expressed concern with the Russian prime minister’s remarks that he was planning to visit the Kuril Islands again. "Those who have not been there should visit them. Anyway, I am planning to go there to see how things are. I am inviting others to follow me," Medvedev told a government meeting last Thursday.

Medvedev was the first Russian senior official to visit the Kuril Islands in November 2010 when he was the president of Russia. During that trip Medvedev visited a geothermal station and saw facilities under construction. He also talked to the local people. Medvedev’s next visit to Kunashir, the biggest island in the Southern Kuril ridge, was in July 2012 in his capacity as Russian prime minister.

Japan reacted negatively to all Medvedev’s trips. Russia’s Southern Kuril Islands have been a source of territorial dispute between Russia and Japan over the entire post-war period.

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