Talks with Russia over the four disputed islands to the northeast of Hokkaido will be difficult, but Japan is set to take all efforts to regain them, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Monday.
"This is not a problem that may be solved in one round of talks or in one meeting. I intend to draw up a strategy and make a fierce effort to get [the islands] back," the Kyodo news agency quoted the prime minister as telling the parliament.
A long-standing territorial dispute between Moscow and Tokyo over the Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories by Japan, was aggravated by a recent visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to one of the islands. Tokyo has described the visit, the first trip by a Russian president to the disputed islands, as "regrettable," while Moscow argued it is up to the Russian authorities to decide on their trips inside the country.
Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told the parliament on Monday that Russia's prompt activities aimed at developing the islands have weakened Japan's position in the talks.
Following the row sparked by Medvedev's visit, Japan temporarily recalled its ambassador from Russia. The ambassador was to return to Moscow on Sunday as the Japanese government decided to refrain from further actions of protest.
Medvedev and Kan are expected to meet during an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit due on November 13-14 in the Japanese city of Yokohama.
Both Moscow and Tokyo have laid claim to the Kuril Islands since they were occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The dispute over the islands has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities.
TOKYO, November 8 (RIA Novosti)