Japan, Russia agree to discuss territorial dispute in ‘quiet atmosphere’

The leaders of Japan and Russia agreed Saturday that the two countries will discuss a bilateral territorial dispute "in a quiet atmosphere."

In a meeting held prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Hawaii, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed the need to solve the territorial issue before signing a peace treaty, a senior Japanese official said.

Medvedev invited Noda to Russia. The Japanese leader said he appreciates the invitation and will study it, according to the official.

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Japan, Russia agree to deal calmly with disputed islands issue

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, agreed Wednesday that Tokyo and Moscow will address their territorial dispute off Hokkaido "in a calm atmosphere," a Foreign Ministry official said.

Genba and Lavrov were meeting for the first time in New York on the sidelines of the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly. Genba, the nation’s youngest prime minister in the postwar era, assumed his post Sept. 2.

Genba and Lavrov also agreed to cooperate in urging North Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization, the official said.

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Japan Urges Russia to Stop Bomber Flights

Russian bombers have flown around Japan amid a territorial dispute, Tokyos new Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said Friday, calling on Moscow to refrain from "provocative" military action.

Gemba said he expressed Tokyos concern about the flight of two Tupolev Tu-95MS bombers around the Japanese mainland on Thursday, in a telephone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

The two countries are in dispute over Russian-held islands on the fringe of the Okhotsk Sea, called the southern Kurils in Russia but also claimed by Japan, where they are collectively known as the Northern Territories.

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Russia may deploy rockets on disputed islands

Russia will send new air defense systems, possibly including S-400 rockets, to islands at the center of a territorial dispute with Japan, RIA news reported on Tuesday, citing a General Staff source.

Russia, which occupied the four islands off Japan at the end of World War Two, has pressed its claim to the territory with plans to boost investment and its military presence.

"The division will be given a brigade of air defense troops," RIA quoted the General Staff source as saying.

The air defense systems will consist of short and long-range weapons, possibly including the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, he said.

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Russian military increases activity near disputed isles

Japan is closely monitoring stepped-up activity by Russia’s military near disputed islands, Japan’s chief spokesman said Thursday after Moscow said it would deploy new weapons to the area.

Relations between Japan and Russia have been clouded by a long-running dispute over the four islands, called the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

The former Soviet Union occupied the islands off northern Japan at the end of World War Two and the row has weighed on bilateral ties since, preventing the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty despite growing economic ties.

Japan is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with China and the government’s handling of the spats has been heavily criticized at home, adding to a fall in Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s support ratings.

"Russian military activity near our country is increasing and we will continue to monitor this closely with interest," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

"We would like to deal with this based on the stance that the four islands are Japan’s territory and that we want to resolve the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty in accordance with existing agreements and statements."

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Russia and Japan still mincing words over islands

Russia and Japan were engaged in a heated war of words on Monday over a disputed island chain that the Kremlin vowed to keep forever despite the pressure from Tokyo.The deeply divisive issue flared again when Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan used a national remembrance day to call President Dmitry Medvedevs recent visit to the Kuril Islands — known as the Northern Territories in Japan — an "unforgivable outrage".Japans centre-left prime minister delivered his comments at a rally demanding the islands return — an event that received broad media play in Moscow because it featured the burning of a Russian tricolour flag.Russia delivered an immediate toughly-worded response to both the rallies and Kans address.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Japanese prime minister of pandering to nationalist interests and noted that any talks over the islands must be based on Tokyos "unconditional recognition of the outcome of World War II."

"These expressions are clearly undiplomatic," Lavrov said in reference to Kans comments.

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Japan Protests Medvedev Visit to Disputed Kunashiri Island

Japan’s prime minister strongly protested Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to a disputed island and said in a meeting on the sidelines of a Pacific Rim leaders’ conference Saturday that the two nations must build mutual trust.

Medvedev reportedly responded that he will return to the island whenever he pleases.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told Medvedev that the Nov. 1 visit was unacceptable and inflamed the feelings of the Japanese people, Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said. Kan said the two nations, which have never signed a treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities because of the territorial dispute, must work to develop trust.

The talks Saturday — which Japanese officials said began in a "tense mood" — were their first since Medvedev’s trip to the island, known as Kunashiri in Japan and Kunashir in Russia. Russia captured the island and several others in the closing days of World War II.

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Japan and Russia territorial battle deepens

The diplomatic row between Russia and Japan is worsening as the two countries battle it out over a disputed chain of Pacific islands known as the Kurril Islands.

Russia has announced that President Dmitry Medvedev is planning more trips to the islands after Japan announced it was recalling its envoy to Moscow. But this is not the only territorial dispute which Tokyo is fighting. It’s also in a tussle with China over the disputed East China Sea. But critics say Japan’s diplomatic spats are a way of diverting attention from its domestic economic problems.

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Russian Visit to disputed isles angers Japan

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the Kuril Islands on Monday on the first visit by a Russian leader to territory at the heart of a decades-long dispute with Japan.

The trip, which comes ahead of Medvedev’s visit to Japan for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit later this month, immediately triggered the ire of Japan.

"As Japan has kept its position that the four Northern Islands belong to the Japanese territory, the president’s visit there is very regrettable," Japanese Prime Minster Naoto Kan told parliament shortly after Medvedev touched down.

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara echoed the premier, saying the visit "hurts Japanese public sentiment and is extremely regrettable."

The Kremlin chief flew in to the island of Kunashir, in what analysts say was a deliberate signal to Japan that it is not willing to give up the four southernmost islands, which are home to about 19,000 people.

He snapped some pictures during a windswept and rainy visit to a pier overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and also inspected sites such as a geothermal energy station and a fish processing plant.

The Kuril Islands, a volcanic archipelago which lies north of Japan’s Hokkaido island, have been controlled by Moscow since they were seized by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.

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