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Russian Defense Minister Visits Disputed Island Off Japan

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has visited an island northeast of Japan that is subject of a sovereignty dispute with Tokyo.

Russian media reports said Serdyukov traveled to Iturup Island, one of four disputed Kurile Islands, and would travel to two others on a "military inspection trip."

Serdyukov's trip was the latest in a series of visits by high-ranking Russian officials to the disputed islands known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles and in Japan as the Northern Territories.

On November 1, President Dmitry Medvedev became the first Russian leader to visit the islands, sparking a diplomatic row with Japan.

Soviet forces seized the islands at the end of World War II.

compiled from agency reports