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Japan’s minister observes South Kuril Islands

October 19, 2014, 9:57 UTC+3 TOKYO

Akihiro Ota is the second governmental official to inspect the South Kuril Islands in last two days

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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Sergeev

TOKYO, October 18. /TASS/. Japan’s Minister of Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Akihiro Ota observed on Sunday Russian South Kuril Islands, Japan’s government said.

During the inspection on board the border control vessel, Ota studies work of Japanese border guard in the waters near the South Kuril Islands, which Tokyo considers Japanese territory.

“Patrolling bordering regions is of big importance,” the minister said. “We are sure the border guard will secure fully protection of our territory waters.”

Japan’s members of the government organise inspections of the kind from time to time. They either take vessels or make inspections on board a plane. Ota is the second governmental official to inspect the South Kuril Islands in last two days. On Saturday, the inspection was made by Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Shunichi Yamaguchi. [Japan calls the South Kuril Islands the Northern Territories].

From the time Japan’s current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took the office, members of his cabinet have made three inspections of the South Kuril Islands. Local observers say the trips, as a rule, are signals from Tokyo about its aspirations for discussing the territory problems with the Russian Federation. Since August 2013, Japan and Russia are having consultations of foreign ministers on a peace treaty, which Tokyo connects with settlement of the territory problem of the South Kuril Islands. In May, Japan’s media reported Tokyo refused from the consultations due to crisis situation in Ukraine and as Japan had joined the sanctions regime against Russia. Still, later on, representatives of Japan’s foreign ministry disclaimed the information about cancelling the negotiations and confirmed Japan would consider views of other G7 countries in fixing a date for another consultation with the Russian Federation. The date has not been fixed yet.

Last year in April, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an official visit to Moscow, Russia and Japan agreed to accelerate negotiations on a peace treaty between the two countries and decided to hold them at a deputy foreign ministerial level.

The latest round of negotiations involving Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama and his Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov took place in Tokyo on January 31.

The Kuril Islands, which used to be Japan’s territory before WWII but became part of Russia as a result of the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation at the end of WWII, have been a source of dispute between Russia and Japan all through the post-war period.

The disputed Kuril Islands, known by this name in Russia, are located in Russia's Far East. They are separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean.

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