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30 Jan, 2024 14:40

Moscow ‘doesn’t give a damn’ that Japan is upset over islands – Medvedev

The Kurils are part of Russia and a legitimate base for its military, the former president has said
Moscow ‘doesn’t give a damn’ that Japan is upset over islands – Medvedev

Moscow is not against signing a peace treaty with Japan, but Tokyo must understand that the Kuril Islands are and will remain part of Russia, former president Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of the Security Council, was responding after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that his country “remains firmly committed to the course aimed at resolving the territorial issue and concluding a peace treaty” with Moscow, despite continuing to support sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

Moscow and Tokyo have for decades been locked in a territorial dispute over four Kuril Islands (known as the ‘Northern Territories’ in Japan), which were captured by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. Russia has argued that its sovereignty over the Kurils is guaranteed by post-war agreements, while Japan has said they do not cover some of the islands.

Against this backdrop, the two countries ended a formal state of war in the mid-1950s but never signed a peace treaty.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Medvedev stressed that “nobody’s against the peace treaty,” which he said should reflect the fact that “the ‘territorial question’ is closed once and for all in accordance with the Constitution of Russia.”

The Kuril Islands “will be actively developing” as their strategic role continues to grow, especially when it comes to the deployment of new weapons in the region, he added. 

“We don’t give a damn about the ‘feelings of the Japanese’ concerning the so-called ‘Northern Territories,’” Medvedev stated. He suggested that anyone who is unhappy with the situation should “end their life in a traditional Japanese way,” referring to the ‘seppuku’ form of ritualistic suicide originating with samurai warriors.

Moscow ended all talks on a potential peace treaty with Japan in March 2022, one month after the start of the Ukraine conflict. Russia cited Japan’s sanctions against Moscow, which it said were aimed at harming the country’s interests. Russia also canceled an agreement that allowed Japanese citizens to visit the Kuril Islands visa-free. 

“All the blame for the damage to bilateral engagement and interests of Japan itself lies with Tokyo, which knowingly opted for an anti-Russian course instead and developing mutually beneficial cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said at the time.