Medvedev Calls for Tourism Infrastructure on Japan-claimed Islands

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered the development of tourism infrastructure on the Kuril Islands, four of which are claimed by Japan in a decades-long dispute, TASS news agency reported.

Medvedev gave the instructions, which focus on what Russians call the Kuril Islands, to Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev, who is in charge of the Russian Far East. They were attending a meeting on the region’s development in Moscow on Monday.

Medvedev said there were no hotels in the Kuril Islands until recently, but changes are taking place. He said he wants to develop the necessary infrastructure quickly, to draw the attention of Russian and international tourists.

Japan recently said it wants to promote joint economic activities with Russia on the four islands. But the recent development suggests Moscow is stepping up unilateral development.

Russia controls the four islands. The Japanese government maintains the four islands are an inherent part of the country’s territory. It says they were illegally occupied after World War Two.

Medvedev is known for his hardline stance in negotiations with Japan. Observers say his latest orders are designed to keep Japan in check, ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s planned visit to the country in June.