TOKYO/YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia, July 3, Kyodo
Japan lodged a protest with Russia on Tuesday after Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev visited the disputed Kunashiri Island off Hokkaido, with Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba criticizing it as pouring "cold water" on bilateral relations.
The visit by Medvedev and several ministers came only two weeks after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to reactivate bilateral talks on the long-standing territorial dispute in a calm manner.
Medvedev became the first Russian head of state to visit one of the four disputed islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan when he went to Kunashiri as Russian president in November 2010. After the visit, Japan's relations with Russia deteriorated to the lowest point in years.