Who: Japan’s ambassador to Russia Masaharu Kono. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
What: Tokyo has temporarily recalled its ambassador from Moscow, in a move to show its disapproval of the Russian President’s visit to Kuril Islands, an area claimed by Japan. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made a brief visit to one of the four island outposts seized by Russia from Japan at the end of the World War II.
Where: The Russian leader toured Kunashiri Island, just off the coast of northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, meeting and dining with residents as well as visiting a church, fish-processing factory and a geo-thermal power station.
When: The visit came on Monday, 1 November.
Why: The Pacific islands, which lie north of Japan, have remained under Russian control since they were seized by the Red Army at the end of World War II. Tokyo claims the northernmost four islands as Japanese territory. Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, said Medvedev’s visit to the islands was ‘regrettable’. The islands, called Kurils by the Russians, have rich fishing grounds, mineral deposits and possibly oil and gas reserves. “The territory of the Russian Federation is the territory of the Russian Federation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated.
How: Analysts believe the visit is intended to bolster President Medvedev’s image at home who faces challenge from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the upcoming presidential elections in 2012. The Russian president plans to visit other disputed islands soon and step up investments in the archipelago.