Japan protests Russia’s naming of 5 islands of Kurile chain

Japanese government has issued a protest to Russia over Moscow’s decision to give names to five formerly nameless islands of the Kurile chain, Yoshihide Suga, the Secretary General of the cabinet told a news conference in Tokyo.

“This is unacceptable and runs counter to Japan’s position,” he said. “We sent a note of protest to Russia through diplomatic channels.”

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution earlier on giving names to five previously nameless islands of the Kurile chain.

The names were given pursuant to provisions of Russia’s federal law ‘On the Names of Geographic Objects’ and proposals of legislature of the Sakhalin region, which the Kurile chain stretching from the southern extremity of Kamchatka to the northern extremist of Hokkaido is administratively part of.

The names commemorate Gen Kuzma Derevyanko, who signed an act on Japan’s capitulation on Sept. 2, 1945, on behalf of the Soviet Union, Gen Alexei Gnechko, who commanded the Kurile Islands Landing operation in August and September 1945, Soviet diplomat Andrei Gromyko who was Foreign Minister of the USSR from 1957 through to 1985, Sakhalin region Governor Igor Farkhutdinov, and Anna Shchetinina, the world’s first-ever captain of a merchant ocean-going ship.

As of the middle of the 20th century, Moscow and Tokyo have been holding, with shorter or longer intervals, the talks on elaborating a bilateral peace treaty. The problem of sovereignty over the southern part of the Kurile chain — the islands of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and the Habomai archipelago — that went over to the USSR upon the end of World War II remains the biggest stumbling block to the signing of the treaty.

Tokyo does not recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the islands.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has said many a time in this connection there is no question about Russian sovereignty over the islands, which has an appropriate international legal groundwork. (PNA/Itar-TASS)