Kuril islands dispute between Russian and Japan

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Dmitry Medvedev has paid the first visit by a Russian president to the disputed Kuril Islands, sparking a diplomatic row with Japan.

Mr Medvedev met local residents in Kunashir, the second-largest of the four islands, and pledged more investment for the region.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called Mr Medvedev's visit regrettable, and Russia's envoy was summoned.

Russia called Japan's reaction to the visit "unacceptable".

Russia took control of the islands at the end of World War II.

The islands lie to the north of Japan's Hokkaido island and to the south of Russia's Kamchatka peninsula. They are known in Russia as the Southern Kurils, while Japan calls them the Northern Territories.

Before Russia took control of them, some 17,000 Japanese residents lived in the Kurils....

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