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TOKYO, February 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has turned down a possibility of Tokyo revising its position against the Japanese economic activity on the South Kuril islands. In reply to a question asked by a deputy from the opposition during debates held at the budget commission of the Japanese parliament, Shinzo Abe declared that Japan would not revise the legal basis behind its approach to the problem of the four islands.
Shinzo Abe said that contacts with these islands and trips there made by Japanese citizens, who once lived there, were important for strengthening mutual understanding and creating a basis for settlement of the problem of the islands' territorial jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the Japanese prime minister pointed out that any technical assistance Japan might render to the islands should not be based on the recognition of Russia's administrative rights there. This is our juridical position which will not be changed, the Japanese prime minister declared.
Despite his position against the presence of Japanese business on the South Kuril islands, Shinzo Abe said he welcomes the development of the relations with Russia in all fields and called to spearhead talks with Russia at a top level. Economic cooperation between the two countries on South Kurils is possible in principle if ways of avoiding the existing juridical problems are found, Shinzo Abe said.
At present, the Japanese government does not let Japanese businessmen take part in any economic projects on South Kurils, which would have been an act of recognition of Russia's sovereignty over these islands de-facto, it declared. But, residents of the northern areas of Japan, and in particular, the population of the city of Nemuro, have repeatedly called for the development of direct economic contacts with the disputable islands.