MOSCOW, September 7. /TASS/. Russia’s officials will continue trips to the Kuril Islands and implementation of the federal target program for social and economic development of the territory for 2016-2025, the press service of the Russian Transport Ministry has said.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry has voiced protest to the Russian embassy amid Monday's visit of Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov to the Kunashir Island. Russia’s diplomatic mission in Tokyo later dismissed the protest.
The ministry stressed that Russia’s government officials may freely travel across Russia in line with their duties and need no permission of any foreign countries for that.
During his working visit, Sokolov is scheduled to inspect the transport infrastructure facilities on the energy-rich Sakhalin Island and also on Iturup and Kunashir, the ministry said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Moscow is not planning to take into account Tokyo’s stance on the working schedule of the Russian government officials and the trips of the country’s leadership to the Kuril Islands will continue.
The dispute over the southern Kuril Islands has been the key obstacle for normalizing the Russian-Japanese ties and signing a peace treaty. After World War II, all Kuril Islands were made part of the Soviet Union. But Japan does not agree that the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai island group belong to Russia. Tokyo calls the islands "Northern Territories".