Japan’s PM prepares to visit Russia, postpones trip to Kuril Islands

Kuril Islands (RIA Novosti / Sergey Krasnouchov)
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is not planning to make a trip to the Southern Kuril Islands, but he is ready to visit Russia at the invitation of President Dmitry Medvedev.

A possible visit to the disputed Kuril Islands deserves “careful consideration,” Kan stressed, addressing the Japanese parliament on Wednesday.

Such a trip would be too important an event, the prime minister said, adding that the issue must be considered seriously. “At the moment I do not have any concrete plans," he was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

Tokyo calls the islands, which were incorporated by the Soviet Union after the Second World War, its Northern Territories. Many Japanese politicians protested against President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent trip to the South Kurils.

Medvedev met with Kan on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Yokohama on November 13. He invited Japan’s PM to visit any region of Russia, including the Far East.

On Wednesday, Kan reiterated Tokyo’s principal position that the islands are part of Japan and “the territorial dispute must be resolved through the signing of a peace treaty.”

Meeting with the governor of Japan’s northern prefecture of Hokkaido, Harumi Takahashi on Monday, the premier said he planned to visit Russia in the foreseeable future at the invitation of the Russian president.

Some Japanese politicians believe that the PM’s “hasty visit” to Russia may create the impression that Tokyo “has reconciled with Medvedev’s trip to the Kurils.”

The Russian president suggested in Yokohama that the Japanese leadership should change its approach to the problem and discuss the economy rather than political issues surrounding the Kurils.

­Sergey Borisov, RT