Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is promising his government will "tenaciously" pursue the return of four disputed islands from Russia, ahead of a diplomatic mission to Moscow.
Mr. Kan made the promise Monday during a rally by more than 1,000 people demanding the return of the four islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Kurils. Mr. Kan also denounced a visit to the islands in November by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, calling it an "unforgivable outrage."
The dispute over the islands, captured by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, has prevented the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty for 65 years. Mr. Kan said he will negotiate patiently but persistently to win back the islands and complete a treaty with Russia.
Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara is due to visit Moscow later this week.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.