TOKYO, February 6. /TASS/. There is clear development in the ongoing negotiations between Russia and Japan on joint economic activity on the southern Kuril Islands, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said in Tokyo on Tuesday in the run-up to talks with his Japanese counterpart Takeo Mori.
"There is clearly visible development, supported by active positive attitude of both sides," he noted. Morgulov also stressed that Russia and Japan now have "understanding of execution of the major principles of joint economic activity." "Five priority areas were determined at the highest level, and working groups started theme discussions on practical fulfilment of project activity," the deputy foreign minister said.
Takeo Mori, for his part, expressed hope that the sides will manage to conduct a frank discussion at the upcoming negotiations. "Regarding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s possible visit to Russia in May, we would like to carry out a frank discussion in order to ink a peace treaty and wisely advance the agreements reached by our countries’ leaders," he noted.
The parties regard the joint economic activity on the islands as a step towards the signing of a peace treaty. At the same time, according to Japan’s observers, they still have different views on how such projects should be implemented. Russia believes that it should be done under its law, while Japan suggests creating some sort of a "special system" on the specified territories.
Moscow and Tokyo have been negotiating for decades to work out a post-World War II peace treaty. The main obstacle is the issue of identification of the southern part of the Kuril Islands: after the end of the war the entire archipelago became part of the Soviet Union; however, Japan is disputing Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of islands which it calls Habomai. The Russian Foreign Ministry repeatedly stated that the Russian sovereignty over them, which is based on corresponding international legal documents, is undoubtable.