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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Japan Consulate

TOKYO () -- Japan is planning to open a branch consulate office on Sakhalin Island, a ministry official said Monday, a move seen by the media as a policy shift toward the Kuril islands.

"We have the plan, although it has not been decided," the official said of the Japanese Consulate General branch in Khabarovsk, near the border between Russia and China, in the southern half of the Sakhalin Island.

Several major Japanese newspapers said the move was a "serious [territorial] policy shift" for Japan, accepting Russia's control of the southern half of Sakhalin Island.

But the official insisted the move had "nothing to do" with Japan's longstanding claim of four islands off northern Japan's Hokkaido island.