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    Japanese opposition criticize government for anti-Russian rhetoric

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    Anti-Russian rhetoric by the Japanese premier made the foreign minister's recent visit to Moscow 'pointless,' a Japanese opposition leader said.

    Anti-Russian rhetoric by the Japanese premier made the foreign minister's recent visit to Moscow 'pointless,' a Japanese opposition leader said.

    A week ago, on Japan's Northern Territories Day, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called an "inexcusable rudeness" Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Kunashir, one of four Kuril Islands disputed between Japan and Russia. The statement sparked an angry reaction from Moscow.

    "Due to the spontaneous statement by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the foreign minister's visit to Russia which followed became absolutely pointless," said Shigeru Ishiba, a leader of Japan's major opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party.

    A dispute over the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan, has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty to officially end World War Two hostilities. The islands were seized by Soviet forces at the end of the conflict.

    Tensions have escalated since November, when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made the first visit by a Russian leader to one of the islands, 7,000 km from Moscow.

    The Japanese foreign minister, who paid a visit to Russia on Friday amid the growing row over the Kuril Islands, said the postwar period in the Japanese-Russian relations will end only when the peace treaty is signed.

    Ishiba also criticized the foreign policy of Kan's administration, blaming the prime minister for worsening ties with the U.S. and no improvements in relations with Japan's major neighbors - Russia and China.

    "For the first time, they [international relations states] are bad in all directions," he said.

    A dispute over the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan, has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty to officially end World War Two hostilities. The islands were seized by Soviet forces at the end of the conflict.

    Medvedev ordered last Wednesday the deployment of additional weapons on the islands, describing them as a "strategic region" of Russia. Maehara responded by saying that Tokyo's resolve "remains absolutely unwavering."

     

    TOKYO, February 14 (RIA Novosti)

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