On Tuesday, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s Prime Minister, arrived for a visit to the Kuril Islands, a disputed territory with Japan, which refers to the group of islets as the Northern Territories. When Medvedev was the Russian President in 2010, he became the first of that title to visit the islands, greatly upsetting the Japanese government. Negotiations between the two countries have been halted since then, but when their leaders, President Putin and Prime Minister Noda, met for the first time at last week’s G-20 summit, they agreed that peaceful discussions should continue.
Japan and Russia’s tensions of the territories dates so far back, that following World War II, the nations never actually signed peace agreements. Russia has held control of the islands since the end of the war, but the Japanese government has never given up their claim to the four most southern islands in the group. The most likely source of the ownership dispute is the fact that the ocean waters in the area are prime fishing locations, as well as believed to have oil and natural gas deposits.
Medvedev’s visit this week has once again stirred up bitter feelings in Japan. Just prior to his visit, the Russian leader adamantly stated that visits to the Kuril Islands by the country’s officials would continue. His plans include to meet and visit with local residents, and to remind the region of its importance to Russia.[Via Moscow Times]