A government-backed rally held in support of efforts to win back Russian-held islands off Hokkaido issued a restrained statement on Thursday, with organizers cognizant of the possible negative impact it may have on ongoing talks with Moscow.

While still demanding the return of the islands, the statement adopted at the protest in Tokyo, organized by the government as well as public and private groups, omitted phrases used in the past that could inflame tensions with the Kremlin.

In the statement, it refrained from describing the contested islands off Hokkaido as being "illegally occupied."