Monday's visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to one of the four South Kuril islands claimed by Japan is the country's domestic affair that has nothing to do with foreign policies, the Russian ambassador to Japan said.
The statement came during a meeting between Mikhail Bely and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, Japan's Jiji news agency reported. Bely was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to provide explanations on what Japan called a "regrettable" move by the Russian president that "hurt the Japanese people's sentiments."
"This is Russia's domestic affair which does not belong to international politics," Bely reportedly told the Japanese minister, adding that Russia was ready to "discuss bilateral relations" with Japan during a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum due in Yokohama on November 13-14.
Medvedev's visit to Kunashir Island, near Japan's northernmost Hokkaido Island, was the first trip by the head of state of Russia or the former Soviet Union to the South Kuril islands. The dispute over the four islands (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai) has prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a formal peace treaty since 1945.
Ahead of the visit, Japan voiced its concerns saying the arrival of the Russian president could complicate bilateral ties.
"As Japan has kept its position that the four northern islands belong to Japanese territory, the president's visit there is very regrettable," Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a parliamentary committee meeting earlier on Monday.
Answering a journalist's question on how Medvedev's trip would affect ties between Moscow and Tokyo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that he saw "no connection" between the trip and Russian-Japanese relations.
The four South Kuril islands were annexed by the Soviet Union after World War II.
MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti)