The Kuril Islands in the Pacific, which Japan lays territorial claims to, will reel in both domestic and foreign investors, but renting out the archipelago is strictly off the cards, Russia's deputy prime minister has announced.
Speaking on Monday, Yuri Trutnev, who also serves as Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, said that the Russian government has prepared and submitted to the State Duma a bill on the creation of incentives in the territory.
"We will develop the Kuril Islands and attract both Russian and foreign funds there," Trutnev explained, but insisted that "there can be no talk about leasing any islands. The Kuril Islands have been and will be the territory of Russia."
The official's comments come after the governor of the Sakhalin region in Russia's Far East, Valery Limarenko, told Moscow business daily RBK that the Danish company Copenhagen Offshore Partners is willing to plough $2.5 billion into hydrogen production on Shumshu Island and is interested in leasing it because it has optimal wind for the construction of generators. Limarenko's Press Secretary, Svetlana Litvinova, later said that the use of "only part of the land" is being considered for the project.
Trutnev also expressed the need to create a museum on the island to commemorate its war-time legacy. "One of the last and most important battles of World War Two in the Far East took place on Shumshu," he said, adding that hundreds of Soviet Army soldiers lost their lives.
The Soviet-Japanese war ended in September 1945, a few months after the surrender of Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union then took control of the South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Tokyo and Moscow are still yet to settle the claims over the lands, which are now in Russia's possession, and never signed a proper peace treaty after the end of the Second World War.
In October, the recently elected prime minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, said that Japan would not agree to ink a peace treaty with Russia if the two nations could not resolve their territorial dispute over the Southern Kurils, a collection of four islands - Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai - which were part of Japan before WWII.