No Problem! Moscow Says Kuril Islands Not an Issue, Tokyo Furious

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Japan has reacted angrily to the latest statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry on the so-called Kuril problem that Moscow says does not exist.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said that it is irrelevant to speak of the so-called Kuril problem, a statement that prompted Tokyo to lodge a protest, Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported.

On Thursday, Morgulov said that the issue related to the Kuril Islands “was resolved seventy years ago,” and that “there is no dialogue with Tokyo on the Kuril problem.”

Hajime Hayashi, head of the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Europe Department, handed a note of protest to the Russian Ambassador in Tokyo Yevgeny Afanasyev on Friday, saying that Morgulov’s statement is “inadmissible.”

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was quick to say, in turn, that his country has protested what he described as “an unconstructive statement that runs counter to the truth,” according to the Japanese news agency Kyodo.

At the same time, Kishida called for bolstering relations between Russia and Japan, which he said should develop a “constructive dialogue”.

Japan and Russia never signed a permanent peace treaty following the end of World War II because of a disagreement over the four islands, including Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan dubs the Northern Territories.

Japan claims these islands, referring to a bilateral Treatise on Trade and Borders signed back in 1855.

Moscow, for its part, proceeds from the assumption that the southern Kuril Islands became an essential part of the Soviet Union following the end of the Second World War and that the legally-binding Russian sovereignty over the islands cannot be questioned.

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