Japan protests Russia's latest official visit to disputed islands

15:06, May 16, 2011      

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Japan on Monday protested a visit by a Russian government delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov to two of the disputed Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, northern Japan on Sunday.

Japan's Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto told the Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Bely that the trip to islands by Ivanov and four other Cabinet ministers was regrettable and that Moscow should not arrange any more visits to the islands by senior Russian officials.

The Russian visit to the islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri "runs counter to Japan's basic position and hurts the feeling of Japanese people," Matsumoto said to Bely, having summoned him to the ministry's offices earlier Monday.

Bely, for his part maintained Moscow's stance that the disputed islands are in fact Russian territory.

Top Russian dignitaries such as President Dmitry Medvedev and a host of others who started visiting the islands last fall much to the chagrin of Japan, have opted to suspend their vistas to the four disputed islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils, in recent weeks, due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern parts of Japan.

However, observers said that the period of grace is over and Russia intends to continue with its territorial promotion.

Source: Xinhua
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