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Russian Foreign Ministry sends protest to Japan for marking Kurils as Japanese

According to Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, such actions by the Japanese side "negatively affect the atmosphere of the Russian-Japanese relations"

MOSCOW, July 4. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry has sent a note of protest to Japan for marking the South Kuril Islands as Japanese territories in the materials prepared for the G20 summit in Osaka, Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Thursday.

"On July 2, a diplomat from the Japanese embassy in Russia was sent a note expressing protest regarding using the materials in light of the G20 summit by the Japanese side, including multimedia ones, where the South Kuril Islands were marked as the territory of Japan. The note points to the Japanese side abusing the G20 chair functions in order to advance the unfounded territorial claims to our country," she said.

According to her, such actions by the Japanese side run contrary to "the repeatedly declared intention of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to refrain from steps that may damage the political standing of the other side and, overall, negatively affect the atmosphere of the Russian-Japanese relations."

Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union, while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a common declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached. Moscow has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands could not be questioned.

On June 29, the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took place in Osaka. At a joint press conference following the talks, the head of the Japanese government pointed out that the sides had agreed on a South Kuril Islands former Japanese inhabitants’ regular visit to the burial ancestral sites, scheduled for August-September this year. Abe also underlined that he and the Russian President also confirmed the intention to continue the peace treaty talks and advance the implementation of the common business activities on the South Kuril Islands.