Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev frustrated Japan when he visited the disputed Kuril Islands, which are located north of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Tuesday.
Medvedev, who had visited the islands before, said the islands “are an important part of the Sakhalin region and an important part of the Russian land,” which was met with protest by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, according to RT.
Russia captured all of the islands in 1945 but Japan still claims that four belong to them.
“The islands of the Kurils are … our territory, which should develop just like the mainland of our country,” Medvedev said while in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, reported The Moscow Times. “We have to develop new investment projects, including those with the participation of foreign firms.”
After the visit, the Russian ambassador in Tokyo was told by the Japanese vice foreign minister that the island of Kunashir, which is only 15 miles from Hokkaido, is “an integral part of Japanese territory,” reported the BBC.
The waters off the islands are said to have reserves of oil and natural gas, and have good fishing locations.
Japan’s claim over the islands has prevented it and Russia from signing a formal peace treaty to end World War II, which means the two countries are still technically at war.Weeks ago, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to hold negotiations over the territorial dispute, the Japan Times reported.
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