Major differences still hinder peace talks with Japan over contested islands: Russian FM
Iran Press TV
Mon Jan 14, 2019 05:31PM
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says there are still significant disagreements with Japan on reaching a conclusive peace deal to end a decades-long territorial dispute over a group of islands, which has prevented the two sides from promoting their ties since the conclusion of World War II.
The top Russian diplomat made the remarks in a press conference on Monday after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in the capital Moscow, adding that it was hard to expect progress in peace talks without Japan first recognizing Russia's sovereignty over disputed islands.
Russia is willing to work toward a peace resolution provided "Japan's indisputable recognition of the entirety of results of World War II, including Russia's sovereignty over all of the islands of the southern Kuril chain," Lavrov further said at the presser.
The Kuril chain, which consists of a series of 56 mostly uninhabited islands, separates the Sea of Okhotsk, to the west, and the North Pacific Ocean, to the east. They are located between Hokkaido, Japan's second largest island and its northernmost prefecture, to the south, and Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, to the north.
Until the final year of the Second World War, the entire Kuril Pacific archipelago was part of Japan's territory. However, Soviet troops took possession of all islands in aftermath of the Kuril Islands landing operation at the end of the war.
Japan claims sovereignty over four islands in the Kuril chain. Moscow, however, cites the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, which abolished Japan's sovereignty over the archipelago, describing Tokyo's claims as unfounded.
Known in Japan as the country's Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils, the contested islands have strained Moscow-Tokyo relations for decades, preventing the two neighbors from signing a peace treaty to formally end the wartime hostilities.
The standoff has also hindered bilateral investment and trade cooperation between the two sides.
Moscow has military bases on the Kuril Pacific archipelago, and in 2016 angered Tokyo by starting the construction of new modern compounds for its troops stationed on the islands.
The Japanese foreign minister's visit to Russia is aimed at laying the groundwork for a key diplomatic goal, which is winning back at least some of the territory off Hokkaido from Russia, being pushed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Kono's meeting was arranged to prepare for the upcoming summit between Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, highly likely to be held in the Russian capital on January 21.
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