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Russia-Japan split over islands heats up

Russia-Japan split over islands heats up
The changing borders of the disputed Kuril Islands. The dates mark the Shimoda Treaty (1855) and Treaty of St. Petersburg (1875) and post-World War II. Via Wikimedia Commons.

MOSCOW, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Russia Monday protested the desecration of its flag outside its Tokyo embassy by Japanese demanding the return of disputed islands.

Monday is Northern Territories Day in Japan, set aside to reassert its claim to the islands Russia calls the southern Kurils, which the Soviet Union seized at the end of World War II. It is also the anniversary of a Russian-Japanese treaty signed in 1855.

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At an official ceremony, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's "inexcusable rudeness" for visiting Kunashir, one of the four islands, in November.

And Japanese right-wing activists dragged the Russian flag along the ground outside the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, RIA Novosti reported.

"Russia decisively protests the unacceptable statements made by the Japanese leadership towards Russia, believes Tokyo's territorial claims to be unacceptable and condemns the provocative actions of Japanese extremists," the Foreign Ministry said in Moscow.

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