State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf in connection with the Russia’s military exercises near the Kunashiri and Etorofu islands, which are a part of the Northern Territories long occupied by Russia, stated: “The United States recognizes Japanese sovereignty over these islands.”
The question and answer during Harf’s daily press briefing in Washington DC on Aug 13 went like this:
QUESTION: And just in the region, also on Russia, do you have any comment on the Russian exercises in what they call the Southern Kuril* Islands? The Japanese were upset.
MS. HARF: Yes. Let me see what I have on that. I have something brief. The United States recognizes Japanese sovereignty over these islands. And don’t have – I said it was brief. Don’t have anything more for you.
* in the transcript it was written as “Kirul”, which is obviously a typo