JAPANESE PREMIER SPEAKS ON NORMALIZING RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA

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TOKYO, September 2 (RIA Novosti's Andrei Fesyun) -Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koizumi stated that he wanted to settle relations with Russia as soon as possible.

"I would like the relations between Japan and Russia to become normalized as soon as possible, even one day earlier," he said speaking to former residents of the South Kuril islands who were deported to Japan in 1945.

Early on Thursday Koizumi viewed several of the Kuril isles from the board of the Japanese coastal guard boat.

Prior to this action the head of the Japanese government stated that Tokyo considers the signing of a peace treaty with Russia impossible without the settlement of the territorial issue.

Tokyo opines that viewing of the south Kurils on Thursday by Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi must not worsen relations with Russia. This was stated on Thursday by the Cabinet's spokesman , Yu. Kameoka.

"This trip by the Premier is in no way aimed at worsening of relations with Russia," he said. "However Russia should take seriously our stance with regard to the isles."

Japan makes it a condition for improving relations with Russia and concluding a peace treaty the return to it of three South Kuril islands of Iturup, Kunashir and Shikotan, as well as the Habomai Archipelago.

The Russian side met the news about the trip of the Japanese Premier to its southern borders with great circumspection. As the commentary of the Russian Foreign Ministry's press and information department had it, "such actions which at that were demonstratively timed to coincide with the anniversary of the end of WWII can only complicate the talks on the peace treaty problem rather than give a positive impulse to them."

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