MOSCOW, March 5. /TASS/. Problems with the implementation of Japan’s economic projects on the Kuril Islands may be linked to the absence of a political accord in Tokyo on this issue, Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev said in an interview with TASS.
Asked about whether he heard any specific commercial proposals from the Japanese side on the Kuril Islands, Trutnev said, "Nothing is happening in the practical sphere at all. Our Japanese colleagues visited the islands. It is great, but it is not economy, but something else. As for the economic practice, nothing is happening."
The deputy prime minister assured that "there are different opinions in Japan, and it seems that attempts to accumulate this balance and get some consolidated decision from this country are just failing." "As long as they are failing, no specific steps will be taken, because, if there is no unanimity, then there must be no political will and there are political risks instead," Trutnev noted.
In September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met in Vladivostok and agreed on five possible areas of joint economic activity on the southern Kuril Islands, including the aquaculture, waste treatment, wind energy industry, greenhouse business and tourism. The sides are now discussing these projects at a working level.
The parties regard the joint economic activity on the islands as a step towards inking a peace treaty. Still, according to Japanese observes, they disagree on how to implement such projects. Russia believes it should be done under its law, whereas Japan suggests creating some "special system" on the specified territories.
Moscow and Tokyo have been negotiating for decades to develop a post-World War II peace treaty. The main obstacle is the contested territory 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 that it calls Habomai. The Russian Foreign Ministry repeatedly stated that Russia’s sovereignty over them, which is supported by international documents, is undisputable.