MOSCOW, May 21. /TASS/. Japan’s decision to include claims to the South Kuril Islands in its Diplomatic Blue Paper runs counter to the task, set at the summit level, of improving bilateral relations with Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news briefing on Thursday.
She said Russia had taken note of the fact the phrase concerning ‘Japanese sovereignty’ over the Southern Kurils and references to the territorial affiliation of the islands in the context of the Russian-Japanese dialogue on a peace treaty had returned to Japan’s 2020 Blue Paper.
"We proceed from the fact that such a step runs counter to the task, set at the summit level, of creating a favorable climate in bilateral relations," Zakharova said.
She recalled that Russia was entitled to sovereignty over all Kuril Islands on the basis of the results of World War II, in accordance with international legal documents, such as the UN Charter, and was indisputable.
"As it has been repeatedly stated, at the current stage the priority guideline is to focus efforts on and achieve tangible progress of the entire set of bilateral relations [between Russia and Japan], including the development of practical cooperation, the promotion of trust in the field of security and, of course, greater coordination and tighter interaction in the international scene," Zakharova said.
Earlier, the Japanese daily Sankei said that the country’s Foreign Ministry in its annual report Diplomatic Blue Paper reiterated its stance Tokyo had the right to lay claim to "northern territories" - Japan’s term for the southern islands of the Kuril Archipelago. The news agency Kyodo says the mention of the sovereignty over islands was restored after it was omitted from a similar report in 2019 for the sake of improving relation at Japanese-Russian negotiations.
Moscow and Tokyo have conducted intermittent consultations on concluding a peace treaty on the basis of the results of World War II since the middle of last century. The sovereignty over the Southern Kuril Islands is the stumbling block. In 1945, the whole archipelago was taken over by the Soviet Union. Japan disputes the territorial affiliation of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of uninhabited islands referred to as Habomai in Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has said more than once that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands relies on an international legal groundwork and is unquestionable.