Russia has reportedly turned down China’s offer to back it up in its territorial dispute with Japan over the islets called Southern Kurils in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan. China has been urging Russia since 2010 to strengthen their cooperation as both nations have disputes over some islands with Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will grace the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi and will be planning to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a summit. Both leaders are expected to bring up the topic of the Russian-controlled Southern Kurils, which Japan claims as part of its territory. The issue has hindered Russia and Japan from finalizing a peace treaty since the end of World War II. Soviet troops occupied the island during the last days of the war, shunning away the Japanese people living there. Abe has already met with Putin four times since the beginning of his administration in December 2012, raising the “hope of progress” in concluding a treaty. However, Tokyo said that it is doubtful the issue will be resolved soon. A Foreign Ministry official said, “We are not overly optimistic about negotiations on the territorial issue. So far, President Putin has been consistent (in asserting Russian ownership)… which is not at all acceptable for us.”
Despite this, the growing close working relationship between Japan and Russia is the extreme opposite of Japan’s dispute with China. Tensions continue to increase between the two neighbor countries as China continues to engage in maritime activities in the East China Sea as a direct assertion of its ownership of the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands. The ministry official said that the department is not aware of any cooperation between Russia and China regarding the issue of territories. “Russia takes a position that the issue should be resolved between Japan and China. I don’t believe Russia agrees with China’s position,” he said.
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