Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bilateral Relations: Russia, Japan agree to continue talks over disputed isalnds

During a telephone conversation between Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Russian President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, the two countries have agreed to continue bilateral summit talks over a territorial dispute for the conclusion of a peace treaty.

Fukuda expressed his willingness to seek concrete progress in resolving the territorial dispute and to lift the Japan-Russia relationship to a higher level, Japanese media reported.

Medvedev said Russia is ready to continue talks with Japan on the issue. He also pledged to fully cooperate with the Japanese government for the success of the Group of Eight summit slated for July in northern Japan's Hokkaido Prefecture.

The long standing dispute revolves around the four islands off Hokkaido, - Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and Habomai.

The islands are now known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia. reports the islands are currently administered by Russia but still claimed by Japan, which regards their seizure in the waning days of World War II to be illegal. Largely because of this dispute, Japan and Russia never signed a peace treaty at the end of the war and travel to any of these islands from Japan is prohibited.