Medvedev's Kuril islands visit angers Japan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made history on Monday becoming the first Russian leader to visit the Kuril archipelago in the Pacific Ocean and reassert Russia's sovereignty over the islands claimed by Japan.

Mr. Medvedev flew to Kunashir, one of four islands that Japan calls its Northern Territories, on the way back from Vietnam. He toured the island, telling its residents that Russia would invest heavily to develop the islands.

“We want people to remain here. We will definitely be investing money here,” he said adding that the island would soon get a seaport, an airport and paved roads. Japan angrily protested Mr. Medvedev's visit, with Prime Minister Naoto Kan describing the trip “regrettable”. Japanese media said Tokyo may recall its ambassador from Moscow.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the Japanese protests “unacceptable” because the Russian President visited a Russian territory.

Japan demands the return of four sparsely populated islands in the Kuril archipelago, which Russia took under its control during World War II. In 1956 Russia agreed to hand back two of the islands but Japan rejected the compromise. Russia's new leadership has ruled out the return of any Kuril islands to Japan.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 3:40:35 AM |

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