The Kremlin has apparently had second thoughts on returning two of the four Kuril Islands to Japan and will no longer discuss the issue with Tokyo, the Kommersant daily reported Monday, citing a Russian government source.
The source said Japan harbors a "comic-book fantasy" in seeking to take back all four islands, as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stressed last week that the Kurils are part of Russian territory.
Medvedev infuriated Japan on November 1 when he made a trip to the southern Kuril Islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories.
"It's true that the former Soviet Union announced it would return two of the four Kuril Islands - Shikotan and Habomai - back in October of 1956, when the two countries normalized diplomatic relations," a Russian official admitted at a political seminar in Beijing on November 9, claiming that the promise later became invalid.
Yang Mian, a professor with the Institute of International Relations at the Communication University of China, told the Global Times that Russia may change its mind again, but there is no possibility of returning all four islands.
On Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan voiced his opposition to Medvedev's visit to the islands. When Medvedev invited Kan to visit Russia some time next year, Kan told him "he would consider it."