Tokyo, apparently driven by fears that the Japanese public would no longer tolerate what it perceives as cheating on progress in the territorial talks with Russia, has sparked a similar Russian reaction to what Moscow sees as a hard-line stance in Japan's international policies.
Counter to Japan's claims, Russia has repeatedly said that the Kuriles, unlike the Tarabarov and Bolshoi Ussuriisky islands on the Amur river recently transferred to China, cannot be called disputed territories at all, because there can be no dispute about territories gained militarily in times of war.
Both ministers said that dialog would continue and Russian President Vladimir Putin is still planning a visit to Japan this year to sign a package of agreements with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Although the talks could get bogged down in controversy again if Japan expresses hope for "significant progress" on the peace treaty, there is still some kind of possibility in reaching an agreement. Now that Lavrov and Machimura have openly acknowledged that no political solution is apparently possible, businessmen are stepping up to say this is no time for frigidity.
Japanese and Russian entrepreneurs have said the two countries need each other economically, but it is up to the politicians to ensure positive relations.