Japan fumes as Russia talks of free-trade zone on Kuril Islands

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jul 26, 2021, 06:25 PM(IST)

Russian PM Mikhail Mishustin (file photo). Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Kuril Islands are located north of Japan's Hokkaido island. The islands have been controlled by Russia since Soviet troops captured them in the dying days of Second World War. The territorial dispute has kept the two countries from signing a peace accord that would formally end their wartime hostilities. 

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on visited the disputed Kuril Islands and said authorities wanted to establish a free economic zone there. This sparked a protest from Japan.

Kuril Islands are located north of Japan's Hokkaido island. The islands have been controlled by Russia since Soviet troops captured them in the dying days of Second World War.

The territorial dispute has kept the two countries from signing a peace accord that would formally end their wartime hostilities. 

During his visit to Iturup, the largest and northernmost island of the archipelago, Mishustin proposed exempting the islands from customs duty and reducing taxes for businesses.

"This set of measures is unprecedented," Mishustin said.

"We may also think about exempting from taxpayer obligations those who work and invest here," Mishustin added.
He added that the measures would be extended to the main activities on the island with some exemptions, such as the production of alcohol.

"This special regime will help intensify economic activity here. I will report these proposals to the Russian president and a relevant decision will be made," Mishustin said. 

Japanese foreign ministry issued a protest over Mishustin's visit and summoned Russian ambassador.

In a post on Facebook, ambassador Mikhail Galuzin called the protest "unacceptable".

The head of Russia's government "visits Russian regions as he sees fit," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

"There is political will on Russia's part to develop good relations with Japan, we value our economic cooperation very much," Peskov added.

The Russian foreign ministry said for its part that it summoned Japan's ambassador and expressed its protest against the "unfriendly steps" taken by Tokyo.

(With inputs from agencies)

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