TOKYO, October 15./TASS/. The Japanese authorities have voiced protest to Russia in connection with the trip to Iturup Island by the deputies to the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Grigorenko and Marat Khusnullin, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday.
"A protest was voiced. This is unacceptable and is at variance with our consistent position regarding the Northern Territories (Japan’s name for the southern Kuril Islands - TASS)," the foreign minister said.
He reiterated that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed an agreement to continue talks on a peace treaty in their telephone conversation on October 7. "At the level of the leaders of our countries, we confirmed our intention to steadily continue negotiations," the top diplomat said.
Earlier this week, the press service of the Russian government said that Grigorenko and Khusnullin were flying to the Far East to look into progress in implementing Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s instructions. Their working trip includes the Khabarovsk and Sakhalin regions. Specific attention will be paid to social facilities. The working schedule includes an inspection of a fish processing plant on Iturup.
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 Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhibited 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. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now.
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.