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TOKYO, November 24. /TASS/. The deployment of Russian missile systems to two of the Southern Kuril Islands will have no impact on the negotiation process between Tokyo and Moscow or preparations for President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.
"I think it will have no effect," he stressed commenting on reports on the deployment of anti-ship missile systems to the Iturup and Kunashir islands. When asked about the possible countermoves by the Japanese government, Suga noted that it will act in accordance with available information. "Relying on available data, we will take appropriate steps, including official statements on this issue," he added.
Suga added that the Japanese government is closely monitoring the presence of the Russian armed forces in the southern part of the Kuril Islands. "We are constantly monitoring this process," he said. "It is necessary to resolve the issue of the Northern Territories." Meanwhile, according to information obtained by TASS from diplomatic sources, the Japanese government has not yet officially expressed any dissatisfaction to Moscow over media reports on the deployment of the Bastion and Bal missile systems to the Southern Kuril Islands.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that the deployment of missile systems to the Kuril Islands is well founded and should not harm Russia’s talks with Tokyo, including those on signing a peace treaty.
"I advise you to address the question (about missile deployment) to our counterparts at the Defense Ministry. Certainly, it does have a reason," Peskov said. "At the same time, in our view, this should in no way harm the fast trends that there have developed in our relations with Tokyo in terms of thorough preparations for President Putin’s upcoming visit to Japan and the continuing contacts over ways of advancing bilateral relations, in particular, in the economy, and from the standpoint of talks on problems related to a peace treaty," Peskov said.
Russia and Japan have been in talks (with intermissions) over a peace treaty based on the outcome of World War II. Sovereignty over the southern part of the Kuril Islands is the stumbling block. After the war the Soviet Union took over the whole of the Kuril archipelago. Japan keeps disputing sovereignty over the Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan islands and the uninhabited string of small islands Habomai.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration to terminate the state of war between the two countries and restored diplomatic and other relations between them. The issue of the Kuril Islands remained unresolved though. In that declaration the Soviet Union said that in a goodwill gesture it might consider the handover of two islands - Shikotan and Habomai - after the conclusion of a peace treaty.