Depicting the South Kuril Islands as Japanese on national maps is illegitimate and poisonous for the bilateral relations with Russia, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing held at the Territoriya Smyslov (Territory of Meanings) National Education Youth Forum.
"We consider these actions wrongful. Apart from the legal aspect of this issue, there is also an aspect of the atmosphere, which our national institutions are trying to create to resolve the complex existing issues, which is being done at the request and consent of Tokyo. Such actions are definitely not favorable for this atmosphere and poison it," she is quoted as saying by TASS.
"We need to ask those who launch these campaigns or do it out of ignorance or lack of understanding of historical realities a question: who benefits from these actions? Definitely not the bilateral relations. And Tokyo is unlikely to benefit from them either," the diplomat added.
The map of Japan illustrating the Olympic torch relay route is published on the official website for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and depicts the southern part of the Russian Kuril Islands as Japan. The map shows the islands making up the Hokkaido prefecture, where the torch will be brought to on June 14-15 next year. Moreover, the map also depicts the Liancourt Rocks, which are disputed by Tokyo and Seoul, as Japanese. The South Korean Foreign Ministry has already issued a protest note in this case.
Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union, while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a common declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached. Moscow has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands could not be questioned.