By Ria Novosti
Japanese right-wing campaigners dragged the Russian flag along the ground outside the Russian Embassy in Tokyo on Monday and called for the return of a group of disputed islands.
Both Japan and Russia have laid claims to the South Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories by the Japanese, since they were annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty to formally end hostilities.
The incident came as Japanese Premier Naoto Kan called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s November 2010 visit to the one of the disputed islands an “inexcusable rudeness”
The Day of Northern Territories is marked annually in Japan on February 7. On Monday, as happens every year, right-wing activists cruised the streets in vans equipped with loudspeakers to play nationalist music and chants.
“Return the Northern Territories!” and “You are illegally occupying our land!” were just some of the slogans broadcast before the activists approached the embassy, guarded heavily by police, with a Russian flag.
The sparsely populated islands in dispute are in the Kuril chain between Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido and Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula, with the closest just 15 km (9 miles) from Hokkaido.