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TOKYO, September 18. /TASS/. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday said that no decisions have been made regarding his visit to Russia.
"As for this visit, as I’ve said before, we continue to analyse the concurrent factors. Nothing has been decided at the moment," he said.
Some Japanese media previously reported that the Japanese foreign minister might visit Moscow on September 20 to attend a meeting of the bilateral inter-governmental commission.
In late August, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the Southern Kurils. This provoked a sharp reaction in Tokyo - the local media reported that Fumio Kishida’s visit to Moscow "has been postponed" due to this. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned Russia’s Ambassador to Japan Yevgeny Afanasyev. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said trips of the Russian government to the Kuril Islands would continue despite Tokyo’s position.
The problem of the Southern Kuril Islands is the key obstacle to a complete normalisation 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 does not agree that the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai island group belong to Russia. Tokyo refers to the islands as its Northern Territories.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on August 27 that there had been no official information on the timeframe of the Japanese foreign minister’s visit to Russia. "We have seen reports by the Japanese media suggesting that the visit of Japan’s foreign minister has been allegedly cancelled," the diplomat said. "We have not seen Japanese Foreign Ministry’s official statements on this matter, only the media interpretations with reference to some sources," she added. Zakharova said that the sides had not agreed at the moment "on the date and format of the visit." "You cannot cancel what has not been agreed," she said.