Russia will increase its military presence on the disputed South Kuril Islands, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday, a day after Japan's premier demanded their return at a rally.
Speaking at a meeting with defense and regional development ministers, Medvedev said the islands are "unalienable Russian territory."
"We will do everything we can to step up our strategic presence on the South Kuril Islands while developing friendly relations with our neighbors," he said.
"There should be sufficient weaponry there to ensure the security of the islands as an unalienable part of Russia," he added.
The chain of islands in the North Pacific, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, was seized by the Soviet troops at the end of World War Two.
Speaking during a rally in Tokyo on Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Medvedev's visit to the islands last November an "inexcusable rudeness," sparking an angry response from Moscow.
Japanese nationalist radicals reportedly desecrated a Russian flag during the demonstration marking the Northern Territories Day.
GORKI, February 9 (RIA Novosti)