Japan to recall envoy to Russia over isle row

Updated: 2010-11-02 14:29
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TOKYO  - Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said on Tuesday that Japan would temporarily recall its ambassador to Moscow to hear explanations about a row with Russia over disputed islands.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, struggling with a divided parliament and a fragile economy and under fire for what critics say was his mishandling of the row with China, got a fresh headache when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday visited one of four disputed islands that both nations claim.  

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Monday posted a message and two photographs taken on his trip to the disputed Kuril Islands on his Twitter, claiming again the Islands as Russia's territory.

"It's the president's duty to control the development of all Russian regions, including the remotest ones," Medvedev said in his Twitter.

The president also wrote under one of his photos taken during his trip, saying "How many beautiful places there are in Russia!"

Another photo posted on the Twitter is a geothermal power station he inspected on the trip. Under the photo, Medvedev wrote: "Visited the Kuril Islands for the first time today. Spoke with the people there and toured a geothermal power station."

On Monday morning, Medvedev visited Kunashiri Island. He is the first leader from Russia or the former Soviet Union to travel to any of the disputed islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

Upon Medvedev's arrival on the islands, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara on Monday summoned Russian ambassador in Tokyo to lodge a protest against the visit.

The four disputed Pacific islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia, were occupied by Soviet troops in 1945 and are currently under Russian control.

Russia and Japan have long been at odds over the sovereignty of the islands, which has blocked a peace treaty between the two countries since the end of World War II.

The United States backs Japan in its dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands and keeps on calling on both countries to reach a compromise, a spokesman for the US Department of State said.