Japan says Russia intruded air space; Russia denies charge

TOKYO Thu Feb 7, 2013 7:58am EST

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Two Russian fighter jets briefly entered Japan's air space near disputed islands and the northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday, prompting Japan to scramble combat fighters and lodge a protest, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.

Russia, which is currently holding military maneuvers around the disputed Kurile islands, denied any such intrusion took place.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is expected to visit Moscow later this month to discuss territorial matters.

Thursday was Japan's "Northern Territories Day", when rallies are traditionally held calling for the return of the disputed islands it calls the Northern Territories.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had told a rally he was determined to press ahead with negotiations with Russia for the return of the islands.

"I had telephone talks with President (Vladimir) Putin in December, and told him I would like to work to find a mutually acceptable solution to this last-remaining major problem between Japan and Russia," Abe said.

"The government intends to follow its basic policy of settling the territorial issue and then sign a peace treaty. We will press ahead with negotiations with strong will so that progress will be made towards the conclusive resolution of the territorial problem."

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev landed on the remote island chain in July, prompting protests from Tokyo.

Unlike Japan's dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea, which are near potentially vast maritime oil and gas reserves, the feud with Russia has more to do with the legacy of World War Two.

Soviet soldiers seized the islands at the end of the war and the territorial row has weighed on diplomatic relations ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Writing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (14)
Globalman wrote:
Vestiges of the Cold War!

Feb 07, 2013 7:48am EST  --  Report as abuse
StigTW wrote:
Does Japan have any neighbour they don’t have a dispute with? Sounds like it’s neighbours have had enough of the Kool-aid.

Feb 07, 2013 8:23am EST  --  Report as abuse
InYourFaceUSA wrote:
When will the Russians learn? Its not like we haven’t seen it before, after WW2 the Russian land-grab swallowed up a good portion of central Europe and parts of Western Europe and that didn’t end until well after the Russians tried to starve to death the women and children of Eastern German, which resulted in the Berlin Airlift. The bottom line is the Islands belonged to the Japanese as per the 1855 Treaty of Shimoda, but did that stop another land-grab by Russia?? The USA had every right to keep Japan after WW2 according to Kremlin philosophy but what did the good people of America do? They poured money into Japan and West Germany and never once attempted to seize their territory. The USA could have also seized the Philippines for that matter but did not. I beg the question – When will Russia mature and realize seizing others territory such as Japan’s Kuril Islands, Georgia’s South Ossetia and Abkhazia are behaviors best left in the past, when will Russia learn to grow up and stop acting like the bully in the school yard who steals the little children’s lunches??

Feb 07, 2013 7:14pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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