Tokyo, Moscow lock horns in disputed islands standoff

09:53, October 05, 2010      

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's planned visit to four disputed Pacific islands has rekindled an age-old burning debate between Japan and Russia that has failed to be amicably resolved despite numerous declarations and treaties since the end of World War II.

Medvedev has said recently that the four disputed islands, known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, are "an important region of our country" and he would "visit them in the near future without fail."

His remarks were deemed provocative by Tokyo as no Russian head of state has ever visited these islands, which were occupied by Soviet troops in 1945 and are currently under Russian control.

"The dispute over sovereignty in short is largely concerned with the somewhat ambiguous San Francisco Peace Treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan inked in 1951," Dr. David McLellan, a professor on Asian Studies at Waseda University, told Xinhua.

"The treaty states that Japan must give up its claims to the Kuril Islands, but recognition of sovereignty over the islands was not given to the Soviet Union either and therein lies the conflict," said the professor.

"For Russia's part they believe sovereignty was recognized long before the 1951 treaty, at the end of the Second World War," while Japan believes these islands are a part of its Nemuro Subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture, McLellan said.

Source: Xinhua


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