MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The South Kurils issue could become an obstacle to the progress of economic and political cooperation between Russia and Japan, speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament, Sergei Naryshkin, said Thursday.
"The issue of territorial claims to Russia over Kuril islands will only be an irritant in relations and an obstacle to the development of cooperation in other areas, including economy, politics and humanitarian affairs," Naryskin said in an interview with Rossiya-24 television following his official visit to Japan.
The dispute over the issue has been going on since the end of World War II as Russia and Japan failed to sign a permanent peace treaty following the end of the war. The sides have also failed to resolve a dispute over the islands in the Sea of Okhotsk, called the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan.
In February, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to do his best to to facilitate negotiations with Russia on the issue in order to reclaim the islands.
In April, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow had not changed its stance on the disputed Kuril Islands, but was ready to continue dialogue with Japan on the issue.