Russia’s envoy to Japan said Wednesday that a reported plan by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to visit Russian-held islands claimed by Japan would not solve pending disputes but rather create new problems and would be “unproductive” for bilateral relations.
Russian Ambassador to Japan Alexander Losyukov also expressed reservations over any progress on negotiations for a bilateral peace treaty, including the territorial dispute, as “there is currently no resolution that is acceptable to the public in both countries.”
Koizumi has asked government officials and ruling bloc lawmakers to study the feasibility of visiting one of the disputed islands off Hokkaido, possibly by the end of this year, government sources said earlier.
The islands are called the Northern Territories by Japan and Southern Kurils by Russia.
The dispute over the Russian-held group of islands, Shikotan, Kunashiri and Etorofu, and the Habomai group of islets, has prevented the two countries from concluding a peace treaty since the end of World War II, when the islands were seized by the Soviet Union.
“The visit would not lead to a resolution but instead would only create problems,” said Losyukov, a former deputy foreign minister who took the ambassadorial post in March.
“Even an official announcement of (Koizumi’s) intention to visit would stir opposition in Russia,” Losyukov said. “Such an act would be unproductive to our relationship of mutual trust.”
The ambassador reiterated that the two sides should get momentum going by developing relations in different fields, including economic cooperation.
On the construction of an oil pipeline to export Siberian oil to Asian markets, Losyukov said the Japanese-proposed route “is now the only plan,” and the final decision will be made after experts complete discussions in about two months.
Japan and China have lobbied for different pipeline routes, with Japan’s going toward the Pacific from Angarsk to Nakhodka and China’s heading inland to Daqing.
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