In its annual foreign policy report, Japan once again qualifies the northern Kuril Islands as illegally occupied by Russia. The country returned this qualification because of deteriorating relations with Moscow after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Kyodo News reported.
This qualification was last used in 2003. Its change reflected a "conciliatory policy" toward Moscow, adopted in the hope that progress in negotiations over the Kurils would lead to their return in the future.
The new draft diplomatic Blue Book, which Kyodo received, states that the islands, which are called the South Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, are an "integral" part of Japanese territory.
"We are not in a condition in which we can talk about this issue with Russia," the draft book says.
At the same time, Japan demands that Russia heed the international community's criticism, withdraw its troops from Ukraine, and adhere to international law.
In early March, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the southern part of the Kuril Islands Japan's ancestral territories.
In response, Russia announced that it was halting visa-free travel for Japanese to the Southern Kurils, and Russian diplomats refused to continue a peaceful dialogue with Japan over the islands.