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Wednesday, 14th April 2010
In Events In Japan,

Japan and Russia continue island discussion

Leaders from Japan and Russia are continuing to discuss the rule of a set of long-disputed islands off the coast of Hokkaido.

For over 50 years, the two countries have disagreed on four islands off the northern coast of Hokkaido, with Japan insisting that Russia hand the islands back over to Japanese rule.

The islands were taken by Soviet troops during the final days of the second world war, who removed Japanese residents from their homes. The disagreement has meant that even now, the two nations have not signed a treaty to formally bring an end to the war.

In the past, Russia has suggested that the two countries take joint responsibility for the islands - or take two each - but this has not pleased Tokyo.

The four islands are Kunashiri, Habomai, Etorofu and Shikotan. In Japan, the islands are known as the Northern Territories and in Russia, they are called the Southern Kurils.

Japan is currently embroiled in another island dispute with the US, over the location of an army base.

Written by Mark Smith