Russian Prime Minister visits disputed Pacific islands

Published: 03rd July 2012 07:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd July 2012 07:06 PM   |  A+A-

Medvedev_AP

In a visit that left Japan seething, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev traveled Tuesday to a disputed Pacific island and pledged to boost financing for four impoverished islands whose ownership has been disputed by Tokyo since World War II.

Russia captured the Southern Kurils chain — that lie some 7,100 kilometers (4,400) miles from Moscow — in 1945, but Japan still claims it as its own. The dispute for nearly seven decades has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a peace treaty to formally end their hostilities.

Surrounded by rich fishing waters, the islands are believed to have offshore hydrocarbon reserves, gold and silver deposits.

The Russian government said Medvedev arrived at Kunashir Island on Tuesday with a group of officials. In 2010, he became the first Russian leader to visit the chain, which Japan calls the Northern Territories.

During a meeting with local officials, Medvedev pledged to allocate more government funding for the construction of fisheries and roads on the islands.

"Our easternmost region cannot be the most deprived one," Medvedev said in televised remarks.

After the 1991 Soviet collapse, the island chain has suffered neglect and its population has plummeted. Many remaining residents took up poaching of fish and crustaceans that are then sold illegally to Japan, South Korea and China.

Japan protested the visit.

"Medvedev's visit to Kunashir pours cold water on our relations," Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying Tuesday.

Although economic ties between Japan and Russia have grown, little progress has been made in resolving the island dispute, which remains a source of deep political tension and distrust.

Japan claims the Soviet troops took control of the islands illegally and has consistently called for their return as a precondition for fully improved ties.

Russia's foreign minister dismissed the criticism.

"We have to move toward a peace treaty, but not through renewed protests — whether reasonable or not," said Sergey Lavrov.

Russia in 2005 suggested it would cede two of the islands if Japan gave up its claim to the other two, but Japan rejected the idea. The islands lie as close as six miles (10 kilometers) from Japan's Hokkaido island, but are also near an undisputed Russian territory.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp