Russia will not consult Japan on leaders’ trips to Kuril Islands

RIA Novosti / Vladimir Rodionov / POOL
Russia will not negotiate its president’s visits to the disputed Southern Kuril Islands with Japan, a Kremlin official has stressed.

Moscow is not obliged to negotiate President Dmitry Medvedev’s trips to Russian regions with anyone, the source told Interfax news agency on Friday.

Medvedev may visit the islands ahead of the APEC summit he is due to attend in the Japanese city of Yokohama on November 13-14. Tokyo earlier claimed that the possible trip may provoke a negative reaction in Japan.

The Kremlin source said to Interfax, “Do we have to ask Poland for permission to visit Kaliningrad Region?” [from around the mid-15th Century to mid-17th Century the area was under the vassalage of Poland].

He said it is not only ludicrous, but also humiliating for Russians. “Does this mean we must fly to Saratov Region after a visit to Kazakhstan? Does this mean we must fly to Saratov Region after a visit to Kazakhstan?What's the link?" [Kazakhs are currently the second largest ethnic group in the region]

Moscow and Tokyo have not signed a formal peace treaty since 1945, as Japan considers the four Southern Kuril Islands – incorporated by the Soviet Union after World War II – its Northern Territories.

At the end of September, Medvedev announced in the Russian Far Eastern city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky his plans to visit the islands “in the near future” despite Japan’s objections.

“I will fly there by all means,” Medvedev said, describing the Kuril Islands as “a very important region in our country.” He was not able to visit the territory at the time because of bad weather.

Many Japanese regularly visit the islands. However, Japan’s government earlier this week condemned two of its citizens for visiting the disputed islands on Russian visas. Obtaining visas was equal to recognizing Russia’s rule over the islands, the officials said.

Sergey Borisov, RT