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Visit to disputed islands worries Japan

TOKYO, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Russia intends to perpetuate its rule over four islands claimed by Japan since the end of World War II, diplomatic analysts in Japan say.

The analysts told Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun a recent visit to two of the islands by Russia's first deputy prime minister shows Russia's intention to maintain control of Kunashiri and Etorofu.

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The four islands, known as the southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, were under Soviet occupation at the end of World War II.

A 1951 treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan called on Japan to give up all claims to the islands but failed to recognize the Soviet Union's sovereignty.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Monday's visit to two of the islands by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov "very regrettable."

Shuvalov is considered Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's right-hand man in charge of international economic affairs.

The analysts said instead of seeking to break a diplomatic impasse, Russia is devoting its energies to developing the islands.

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