In an embarrassing error for Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, a group of disputed islands off northern Japan have been identified as Japanese territory on his new website, Telegraph reported.
Russia has occupied the four islands - known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia - since the closing days of World War II. The row over the sovereignty of the islands has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty ending the conflict.
"The people who made the site have made a technical error and just did not check," said Sergei Yasenev, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Tokyo.
"There is absolutely no change in Russia`s official position on the status of these islands, but I must say that this has been very good PR for Mr. Putin`s web site and the issue," he said.
The site launched last month and details the former president`s overseas trips as well as his ongoing involvement in Moscow`s foreign policies.
The islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai are marked on the map in magenta, the same colour as Japan. The error was reportedly pointed out in an e-mail to Mr. Putin on Nov 1 by Russia`s Association of Japanologists, but the map has yet to be corrected.
On-off talks have been held over the future of the islands, with one possibility joint economic development. But Japanese who were forced to leave the islands in 1945 and right-wingers here are demanding the full and unconditional return of what they see as an integral part of Japan`s territory.