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Japan Demands Russia Return All Disputed Islands

24 December 2004 -- Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi today reiterated that Russia must return all four disputed Pacific islands seized in 1945 at the end of World War II.

His statement in Tokyo came one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a press conference that he is only prepared to return two of the islands.

Japan and Russia have diplomatic relations but have yet to sign a treaty formally ending World War II because of the dispute. The four islands are known by the Russians as the Kuril Islands, and as the Northern Territories by the Japanese.

Putin is scheduled to make an official visit to Japan early next year.