Russia condemns Japan’s Kuril Islands claim

Following heated discussion in the Duma, Russia’s parliament has condemned Japanese claims to part of Russia's territory in the Far East.

The move is connected to the latest development in a long-lasting dispute between the countries. On June 11, the Japanese parliament officially proclaimed the southernmost Kuril Islands to be part of Japan.

Japanese politicians adopted amendments to a law on the so-called Northern Territories, which include the islands of Kunashir, Shikotan, the Khabamai Rocks and Iturup, aiming to intensify work on returning the territories to Japan.

“The Russian parliament has of course responded to the amendments adopted by the Japanese legislators. Russian deputies have even presented two versions of the proposed official statement. If the changes to the Japanese law do come into force, it will make negotiations on the issue impossible,” Aleksandr Kozlovsky from the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee told RT.

Japan rests its claims on a bilateral agreement of 1855, where the disputed territories were considered to be Japanese. Russia maintains, however, that it took over the islands after World War II in accordance with international agreements.

In a declaration of 1956, that reestablished diplomatic ties between the sides after the war, Russia promised Japan a part of the South Kurils – Khamobai and Shikotan. That was supposed to happen only after the peace agreement is signed between the countries.

The agreement is yet to come to fruition since the end of the World War II as Japan has repeatedly insisted that it should regain all the islands.

On Tuesday, Russia’s State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said that further talks on the peace agreement are possible, only after the Japanese parliament “disavows its decision.”

Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Presidential Administration Sergey Naryshkin has recently urged the sides to come to a compromise in a dispute settlement.

“Nervousness of one of the sides, brought about by abrupt political statements and decisions makes it take a break, stop and think carefully,” the official said. “This dialogue, however, is sensitive to long pauses so we have to thoroughly and calmly search for compromises.”

Russia on numerous occasions has stressed that the Japanese South Kuril Islands claims are ungrounded.

Earlier in May, accepting credentials from a new Japanese ambassador in Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pointed out that the country’s attempts to undermine Russian sovereignty in the region are “unacceptable”.

That was followed by the announcement by the Russian Foreign Ministry that stated that there can’t be any discussion on the “return of the disputed territories”.

The issue, which has even seen accusations of Russian occupation thrown at the official level, is going to be on the agenda of the meeting between the two countries at the upcoming July G8 summit in Italy.