With negotiations between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin set to take place today, 11 protestors have reportedly been arrested outside the Japanese Embassy in Moscow. The activists, who are associated with the Left Front movement and the Russian Communist Party, were protesting in opposition to the possibility that the Kuril Islands would be transferred from Russian to Japanese control. Sergei Udaltsov, the coordinator of the Left Front movement, posted on Twitter about the arrests and claimed that approximately 100 people participated in the protest.
In November, the Russian and Japanese governments announced that they would be taking measures to accelerate negotiations concerning the Kuril Islands, which are located between Japan and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The two governments, along with some representatives of the Ainu people, have disputed the islands’ sovereignty since the mid-20th century. A 1956 agreement declared that the Soviet Union should yield control over the islands to Japan after additional negotiations, but the Soviet government discontinued the transfer process after Japan entered an alliance with the United States in 1960. High-level negotiations between Russian and Japanese officials began this year on January 14.