Russia accuses Japan of provoking tensions over peace treaty issue

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The four islands used to belong to Japan, which were seized by the Soviet Union after the war and were incorporated into Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tokyo maintains that Moscow illegally occupied the islands.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit Russia around Jan. 21 and hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Russian media.

Russia and Japan have not signed a post-World War II peace treaty due to their rival claims to four Pacific islands, called the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

"Such statements can only be interpreted as an attempt to artificially incite the atmosphere around the problem of a peace treaty and to force its own scenario of settlement on the other side," the ministry said in a statement.

MOSCOW, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday slammed the recent statements of Japan on the peace treaty with Russia as an attempt to stir up tensions around four disputed Pacific islands.

Russia's principled position remains unchanged on Japan's "unconditional recognition" of the results of World War II, including Russia's Sovereignty over the islands, the foreign ministry said.

According to a joint declaration signed in 1956, Russia agreed to return two of the islands after a bilateral peace treaty is signed, while Japan refused to sign such an agreement, insisting on the return of all four islands.

The ministry said it had summoned Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kozuki and told him it had drew attention to Tokyo's recent remarks, in particular, those about the need to prepare the inhabitants for the transfer of the islands to Japan and about dropping a demand for compensation from Russia.

It accused the remarks of "grossly distorting the essence of the agreements between the leaders of Russia and Japan to accelerate the negotiation process" and "disorienting the public of both countries."