Russian Pm May Visit Japan - Claimed Island

Russian PM may visit Japan-claimed island

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev may visit one of the four Russian-controlled islands that Japan claims as early as Friday.

The prime minister arrived on Thursday at Sakhalin's capital, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and conferred with the acting governor of the region.

Russia's government announced that Medvedev will attend a meeting on economic growth in the Russian Far Eastern region on Friday along with a deputy prime minister in charge of handling matters related to the region.

Officials in the Sakhalin region say the prime minister will visit Etorofu Island on Friday if the weather proves appropriate.

They say the prime minister is considering inspecting a seafood processing factory and a hot spring facility. He may also check on the progress of the construction of schools and roads. Local officials are making preparations for his visit.

It would be Medvedev's fourth visit to the Russian-controlled islands. In 2010 while president, he became the first Russian leader to visit one of the four islands.

Russia controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.

In June of this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan.

They agreed to promote bilateral negotiations toward a peace treaty based on a 1956 joint declaration. The declaration states that Russia will hand over two of the four islands after a peace treaty is concluded.

Observers say Medvedev is likely to indicate a desire to develop Etorofu Island, which is not mentioned in the declaration, under Russia's sovereignty.