Russia defends ‘naming’ Kuril islands

Although Russian President Putin and Japanese PM Abe have signed a number of trade deals, they have been unable to reach agreement on signing a peace treaty or resolving the island dispute [Xinhua]


Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has defended Russia’s naming of a group of islands in the Pacific which Japan has claimed at its own territory.

Japan filed a formal note of protest with Russia after Moscow decided to name the Kuril islands, seized by Soviet troops in the waning days of World War II, after prominent historical figures.

“Japan’s position is well known. We highly appreciate the new positive dynamics of our bilateral relations,” Peskov told the media.

“But still the Kuril Islands, of course, remain the territory of the Russian Federation. So in this case it is the sovereign right,” he added.

The 71-year territorial dispute stemming from the final days of World War II had figured prominently between Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during their previous meetings, but the Kremlin has warned that the issue “cannot be resolved in one go”.

A peace treaty has eluded both countries ever since Russian troops seized four Japanese islands – known as Kuril (or Kurilskiye Ostrova in Russian) – in the summer of 1945.

The four disputed islands – Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai – were occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the war and are today home to thousands of Russian civilians.

There have been stumbling blocks which hindered resolution of the dispute in the past. Russia says it wants to sign a peace treaty before resolving the Kuril Islands dispute.

Japan, on the other hand, wants the islands issue resolved before agreeing to sign a peace treaty.

Russia says there need to be extensive and complex negotiations before the issue is resolved.

Japan has proposed helping Russia economically develop the islands in hopes of signing a peace treaty and resolving the territorial dispute.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan late last year but the two countries did not resolve the issue.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies



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