More Russian officials drop by Kunashiri to view infrastructure

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Kyodo) A Russian government delegation led by Regional Development Minister Victor Basargin on Monday visited Kunashiri Island, one of the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan.

Under the instruction of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the delegation is expected to inspect infrastructure development there and visit Etorufu Island, another of the four, on Tuesday.

The move came just before Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara’s visit to Russia this month.

Medvedev visited Kunashiri last November and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov followed suit in December, visiting Etorofu and Kunashiri. Col. Gen. Dmitri Bulgakov, Russia’s deputy defense minister, also visited the two islands earlier this month.

With total investment of 18 billion rubles (about ¥49.5 billion) in Kuril infrastructure development, which covers the four islands, Russia hopes to improve the living environment there to increase the population to about 30,000 from the current 19,000.

The islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group were seized by the Soviet Union following Japan’s surrender in World War II.

Huddle with Beijing

BEIJING (Kyodo) The government’s point man on Asian affairs met Chinese officials Sunday in Beijing and exchanged views on the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the stalled bilateral talks on signing a treaty over joint gas field development in the East China Sea and other issues.

Shinsuke Sugiyama, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told journalists he met with Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, for two hours and had dinner with him.

He said he also held meetings with Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun, Ning Fukui, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, and Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, but declined to give further details of those talks.