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Russian PM's trip to Kuril Islands will hamper dialogue — Japanese diplomatic source

August 14, 2015, 15:39 UTC+3 TOKYO

The source also said Russia should be "careful" about such actions if it wants the visit of Vladimir Putin to Japan to take place

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Dmitry Medvedev visiting the Kuril Islands in 2010

Dmitry Medvedev visiting the Kuril Islands in 2010

© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Klimentyev

TOKYO, August 14. /TASS/. The planned trip of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to the Kuril Islands will become an obstacle for developing the dialogue between Moscow and Tokyo, a Japanese Foreign Ministry representative said on Friday.

"If the visit occurs, this will become a great obstacle in the development of the political dialogue between Japan and Russia," the Kyodo news agency quoted the diplomat as saying.

The diplomat also said Russia should be "careful" about such actions if it wants the visit of Vladimir Putin to Japan to take place. The Russian leader’s trip to the country has been postponed due to the crisis in Ukraine.

Medvedev said in late July he planned to again visit the Kuril Islands and advised his colleagues in the government to follow suit. Medvedev was the first Russian senior official to visit the Kuril Islands in November 2010 when he was the president of Russia.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida then asked Medvedev to cancel his trip to the Kuril Islands noting that this could "hurt the feelings of the Japanese people." Medvedev’s spokesperson Natalya Timakova said the prime minister "determines the routes of his trips around the country himself and needs no recommendations from outside."

A diplomatic source told TASS late last month that addressing Japan’s concerns, the Foreign Ministry said 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.

On Thursday, Japan’s government lodged a protest to the Russian embassy amid the visit of the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district, Yuri Trutnev to Iturup, one of the islands in the Southern Kurils claimed by Tokyo.

The four islands of Russia’s Southern Kurils - Shikotan, Khabomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories, have been a source of dispute between Moscow and Tokyo all through the post-war period. Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II.

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