Russian diplomat urges Japan to improve ties instead of making statements on the Kurils

SAKHALIN REGION, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 8, 2018: An aerial image of Olya Bay and the island of Iturup in Russia’s Far East; Iturup is one of the southern Kurile Islands, which are claimed by Japan. Sergei Krasnoukhov/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Jun 25, 2021, TASS. Japanese authorities should channel their efforts into a real improvement of relations with Russia instead of making loud statements about Russia’s activity on the Kuril Islands, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a commentary in connection with statements from Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato about Russia’s military exercises there, TASS reported.

“Instead of wasting energy on empty statements, Japanese authorities should think about real steps towards mutually advantageous development of Russian-Japanese relations,”’ Zakharova said.

She also criticized Tokyo’s desire to link territorial claims to Moscow with Russia’s activity on its sovereign territory. The diplomat reiterated Kato’s statement that on Wednesday, the Japanese side expressed protest to Russia over military drills in the southern part of the Kuril Islands. She stated that back in August 2020, the Russian Foreign Ministry explained to Japan that such demarches were senseless, since Russia intended to continue strengthening its defense capability and develop the social-economic sector of the Kuril Islands and the Sakhalin Region.

The press service of Russia’s Eastern Military District said on Wednesday that five-day military drills involving 10,000 troops, 500 vehicles and 12 warships and vessels had kicked off on the islands of Sakhalin, Iturup, and Kunashir.

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.

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