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Japan FM says Russian PM's visit to Kurils unlikely to change plans of his visit to Moscow

July 31, 2015, 9:11 UTC+3 TOKYO
Nothing has been decided yet, however, the Japanese side will exert efforts to make this visit happen, Kishida said
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© EPA/PETER FOLEY

TOKYO, July 31. /TASS/. Japan’s Foreign Ministry continues the preparation of Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Moscow, however, the date of the voyage that is to help the sides to agree on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tokyo has not been determined, the Japanese foreign minister told a news conference on Friday.

Nothing has been decided at this stage, however, the Japanese side will exert efforts to make this visit happen, Kishida said, answering a reporter’s question if his visit would be affected by a possible Russian prime minister’s trip to the Kurils. Kishida also said that in his view, Japan’s position will not considerably change on this issue.

On the other hand, there is an agreement between the two countries’ leadership on President Putin’s visit to Japan this year. The possibility of Kishida’s visit to Moscow is being considered within its preparation. The decision will be made based on the analysis of different factors, he said.

On July 20, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the Kremlin did not know yet when Putin will be able to visit Japan. Peskov also said that "Russia has been and remains open to any contacts, especially with one of the closest neighbours, such as Japan." According to him, Moscow and Tokyo "have a rather considerable bilateral trade and economic relations volume."

Putin was to travel to Tokyo in 2014, but the start of a crisis in Ukraine strained relations between Russia and several other nations, forcing the president to put off the trip until next year.

Territorial dispute

Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. Settlement of the problem inherited by Russia’s diplomacy from the Soviet Union is hampered by the years-long dispute over the four islands of Russia’s Southern Kurils - Shikotan, Khabomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories.

After World War II, in September 1945, Japan signed the capitulation, and in February 1946, the Kuril Islands were declared territories of the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, Moscow did not recognize the territorial problem, but in October 1993, when Russian president Boris Yeltsin was on an official visit in Japan, the existence of the problem was confirmed officially. However, the two countries have reached no compromise over the dispute yet.

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