Longtime Japanese-Russian feud over islands
Longtime Japanese-Russian feud over islands reaches new diplomatic low
An isolated chain of
resource-rich, Russian-held islands are at the center of an
ongoing diplomatic dispute that recently has hurt relations
between Japan and Russia.
By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
February 14, 2011
Reporting from Tokyo —
They're a chain of windswept, resource-rich Russian-held islands much closer to Tokyo than to Moscow, and they're at the center of a festering diplomatic row that in recent days has soured relations between Japan and Russia.
An irate Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week pressed home the decades-long dispute, calling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's November visit to the islands over which both nations assert sovereignty an "unforgivable outrage."
On Friday, at a hastily arranged Moscow news conference involving the two sides, the Russian government fired back — with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov bluntly accusing Japanese officials of their own brand of unacceptable behavior.
With Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara nearby, Lavrov then went a step further, saying the Kremlin wanted Chinese, South Korean and even Japanese investment in the islands, which have been in Russian hands since the end of World War II.
A visibly upset Maehara said investments from "a third country" would "complicate the situation." Calling the islands "indigenous territories of Japan," he also dismissed Russia's call for a committee of historians to weigh in on the dispute.