Japan Protests Russia's Special Zone Planned on Disputed Isles


Tokyo, Sept. 6 (Jiji Press)--Japan has lodged a protest against a plan by Russia to create a tariff-free zone on four northwestern Pacific islands at the center of a territorial dispute between the two countries, Chief Cabinet Katsunobu Kato said Monday.

"It is regrettable that Russia plans to introduce a system related to regional economic development on the basis of its laws and regulations," Kato told a press conference, adding that such a move would conflict with Japan's position on the territorial issue.

At an economic forum in Vladivostok on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would establish such a special district in order to attract investment to the islands, effectively controlled by Russia.

Shuichi Tokuda, deputy director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's European Affairs Bureau, made a protest over the Russian move during a meeting with a senior official at the Russian Embassy in Tokyo, according to Kato.

Japan and Russia have agreed to conduct joint economic activities on the disputed islands without undermining the legal position of either side, Kato said, suggesting that Tokyo will continue its negotiations with Moscow.

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