Moscow: Japan’s move to designate the Southern Kuril Islands as originally Japanese territories in textbooks may have an impact on Russia-Japan relations, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
According to Zakharova, Moscow drew attention to the new requirement of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Japan for school textbooks on geography, history and social studies for senior classes, which seek to designate the Southern Kuril Islands as “primordially Japanese territories.”
“It is regrettable that the Japanese government instills false stereotypes in the younger generation that contradict the historical truth and the results of the Second World War, thereby spreading a campaign of groundless territorial claims against our country. Russia’s sovereignty over Southern Kuril Islands is undeniable, and such actions of the Japanese side cause deep indignation in the Russian society, which may negatively affect the atmosphere of bilateral relations,” Zakharova said at a briefing.
The relations between the two countries have long been complicated by the fact that they have never signed a permanent peace treaty following World War II. The main stumbling block is their dispute over a group of four islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai — referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan.
In November 2018, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate peace treaty talks on the basis of the Soviet-era joint declaration. The document stipulates, among other things, that the Soviet Union would transfer Habomai and Shikotan to Japan following the conclusion of a peace treaty. The agreement by the two leaders to use the declaration as the basis for peace negotiations spurred a series of meetings held the following year by Putin and Abe and the countries’ foreign ministers.