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Japan protests Russian gov’t officials’ visits to Shikotan

Tokyo, Feb. 27 (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government lodged a protest with Russia over Tuesday’s visits by senior Russian government officials to Shikotan, one of the four northwestern Pacific islands held by Russia and claimed by Japan, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.

Tokyo insisted that the visits conflict with its legal standpoint toward the islands, which were seized from Japan by Soviet troops around the end of World War II.

The protest was made through diplomatic channels on Tuesday, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The Russian officials, including Sergei Ivanov, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative on environmental and transport issues, reportedly visited Shikotan to attend a ceremony to mark the opening of an optical fiber link between Sakhalin in the Russian Far East and the four disputed islands.

The territorial dispute over the islands has prevented Japan and Russia from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

“We’ll continue to tenaciously engage in negotiations with Russia under our basic policy to resolve the territorial problem and conclude the peace treaty,” Suga, Japan’s top government spokesman, told a press conference.

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