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Russia Developing Kuril Islands in Face of Japanese Claim – US Magazine

© Sputnik / Yuri Kaver / Go to the mediabankKuril Islands
Kuril Islands - Sputnik International
In a show of demonstrating that the Kuril Islands are an essential part of Russia, the country's government has reportedly reaffirmed plans to implement a large-scale program on restoring these islands which are also claimed by Japan.

The Kuril Islands - Sputnik International
Japan Hopes Russia to Settle Kuril Islands Dispute
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has confirmed his country's plans to increase the number of civilians and boost the military on the Kuril Islands, in the face of the ongoing claims on these islands by Japan, the US magazine National Interest reported.

At a cabinet meeting earlier this week, Medvedev said that the project, which initiated a few years ago, has now entered an active phase.

According to him, the project is being implemented as part of a targeted federal program, aimed at restoring "both the civilian and defense infrastructure of the Kurils."

© Sputnik / Sergey Krasnouhov / Go to the mediabankNew airport opens on Iturup Island of the South Kuril Islands
New airport opens on Iturup Island of the South Kuril Islands - Sputnik International
New airport opens on Iturup Island of the South Kuril Islands

He mentioned "the Armed Forces, and the Defense Ministry of Russia," which Medvedev said "are dealing not only with the military but also with the civilian component" on the Kuril Islands.

"It is necessary to join efforts, all the more so as the islands performed and will continue performing not only the usual function but also the function of protecting our frontiers. That is why special attention is paid to the presence of the Russian Armed Forces there," he said.

In addition to border protection, the government initiative is aimed at improving the living conditions on the islands and attracting people to the region, according to Medvedev.

He spoke just a few weeks after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the acceleration of efforts to build up the Kuril Islands’ social development.

Medvedev, for his part, promised to visit the Kuril Islands in the near future, urging other Russian government officials to follow suit.

The National Interest predicted that Medvedev's announcement may further deteriorate relations between Russia and Japan. The magazine believes that Russia is embarking on reviving the Kurils in  response to the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's recent visit to Ukraine, where he signaled his support to President Petro Poroshenko.

View of Iturup island - Sputnik International
Russia to Expedite Military Construction on Kuril Islands
Japan and Russia never signed a permanent peace treaty following the end of hostilities in World War II, because of a disagreement over four islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan the Northern Territories. The islands, located in the Sea of Okhotsk — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai — were given to Soviet forces at the end of World War II and are still claimed by Japan.

Russia has repeatedly offered to return Tokyo two minor islands, but Japan has claimed the entire territory. Currently, the dispute between the countries remains unresolved.

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