Japan should recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Southern Kuril Islands to allow both countries conclude a peace treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to reporters on November 23.
Russian diplomat issued this comment as a reaction on a statement by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, which clarifies that the Japanese government would continue negotiations with Russia on a peace treaty proceeding from its baseline position: first to settle the territorial problem and then to conclude a peace treaty.
“With all the respect for the Chief Cabinet Secretary, we are nonetheless guided by the agreements that are reached at the highest level between the Russian president and the Japanese prime minister. They have agreed to move forward in discussing the problems that remain, proceeding from the 1956 declaration, which clearly states that first Russia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty over all our lands, including those territories, are recognized, thus recognizing the results of World War II, and then everything else will possibly be discussed,” Lavrov underlined.
The majority of Japanese believe that the country’s government in negotiations with Russia should focus on the return of the two southern islands of the Kuril archipelago in the first place, and decide the fate of the two remaining ones in the course of further consultations. The public opinion was published on December 16, quoting data from a survey conducted by the Japanese agency Kyodo. (Image: Kuril from space).
Thus, according to the survey, 53.2% of respondents agreed that the Japanese government in negotiations with the Russian Federation should focus on “the return of two islands, and continue negotiations on the remaining two islands.” At the same time, 28.6% of respondents stressed that it is necessary to seek the return of all four islands at once.
The 1956 declaration said that the peace treaty between Russia and Japan could be concluded after the delivery of Khabomai and Shikotan islands to Japan. Japan had refused to sign the declaration because of the wish to receive more than just two islands.
In 2017, the Russian government established an advanced economic development zone on Shikotan Island and assigned Shikotan to the territory of special economic cooperation between Russia and Japan.