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TOKYO, August 21. /TASS/. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s possible trip to the Kuril Islands is unacceptable.
"If the visit by Prime Minister Medvedev takes place, it will be out of line with Japan’s position on the issue of four northern islands, and will hurt the feelings of Japanese citizens. It is unacceptable," Suga said, adding that "Japan will make efforts at all levels to prevent the visit from taking place."
On July 23, the Russian premier said he planned to visit the Kuril Islands again and recommended his government colleagues to follow suit. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida after that sent a request to Medvedev via the Japanese embassy in Moscow to cancel the trip.
Commenting on Kishida’s words, the Russian prime minister’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told TASS that Medvedev "defines the routes of his trips across the country’s territory on his own and does not need recommendations from outside."
On August 14, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said trips of the Russian government to the Kuril Islands will continue despite Tokyo’s position. The ministry called Japan’s comments unacceptable.
The problem of the southern Kuril islands is the key obstacle to a complete normalization of the Russian-Japanese ties and the signing of a peace treaty. After the Second World War, all Kuril Islands were made part of the Soviet Union. But Japan contests that the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai island group belong to Russia. Tokyo calls the islands "Northern Territories".