Only a day after Russian coast guard ships fired on Japanese fishing boats close to the Kurile Islands, First Deputy Nationalities Minister Vladimir Kuramin said the islands would welcome foreign investment to help with a program of economic and social development next year. "The door is open to any firms — Western, American, Japanese," Kuramin told a news conference, after the government discussed a 10-year plan for developing the islands. The plan centers on building up a modern fisheries industry. (6)
Moscow and Tokyo are in dispute over the four Kurile Islands, seized by the USSR in 1945. The islands have a population of 22,000. Japan calls them its Northern Territories and demands their return. The row is seen as a brake on Japanese investment in Russia. Earlier in the week First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said not enough was being done to attract foreign investment there.
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