The Japanese government is determined to achieve a solution to the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty with Russia, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his programme speech, addressing the Parliament on January 20.
“Step-by-step, the agreements, which we reached with Russian President [Vladimir] Putin are being implemented,” Abe said. “Former residents of the [Southern Kuril] Islands go on a pilgrimage tour by plane to their relatives’ graves and joint economic activity is being cultivated on the four islands.”
“We will speed up talks based on the 1956 Joint Declaration, solve the territorial problem and sign a peace treaty,” Abe continued. “We are moving towards this without any hesitation. I’m fully determined to achieve this goal together with President [Vladimir Putin],” Prime Minister underlined.
Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan.
After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.