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Japan’s ruling party urges early meeting of Suga, Putin following Mishustin’s Iturup trip

According to the head of the party’s Committee on Territories Yoshitaka Shindo, the Japanese side does not only protest against Mishustin’s trip to Iturup but is "overwhelmed with fury"

TOKYO, July 29./TASS/. Participants in a joint session of the committee on foreign affairs and other agencies of the Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party came out in favor of an early meeting of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Russian President Vladimir Putin in connection with Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s recent trip to the Iturup Island, Kyodo reports on Thursday.

"It is necessary to declare to the Russian side that we not only protest [against Mishustin’s trip to Iturup], but are overwhelmed with fury, as well as to clearly point to the inadmissibility of what happened," the head of the party’s Committee on Territories Yoshitaka Shindo said. Some participants in the meeting censured the government’s stance on these developments, Kyodo said.

On July 26, Russian Ambassador Mikhail Galuzin was summoned to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, where a protest was lodged over Mishustin’s trip. The ambassador said this protest was dismissed in the light of Russia’s fundamental stance on the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov expressed his strong protest to Tokyo over its unfriendly steps against Moscow at a meeting with Japanese Ambassador to Russia Toyohisa Kozuki.

On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin embarked on a working trip to the Far East and Siberia. On the first leg of the trip, Mishustin traveled to the Kuril Archipelago, namely Iturup Island.

President Vladimir Putin earlier requested that he pay particular attention to the southern Kuril Islands during the trip. Putin pointed out that Russia had long been in talks with Tokyo on creating "conditions for economic entities" there. The president also announced "unique and unprecedented" proposals to involve Japan in the economic activity of the Kuril Islands. The initiatives will be finalized after Mishustin’s trip, Putin explained.

Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, all the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhabited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.

In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war, and while the two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, no peace treaty has yet been signed.

The Russian foreign ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called to question.

Mishustin’s predecessor as Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, also visited the Kuril Islands several times. He was there as Prime Minister and also as President of the Russian Federation. His first trip there was in 2010. Prior to that, Russia’s top officials had never visited the Kuril Islands.