MOSCOW, September 16. /TASS/. /TASS/. It will take some time for the Japanese side to reflect on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s initiative concerning the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries that was voiced at the recent Eastern Economic Forum and it is quite understandable, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with the Rossiya-1 television channel.
"Putin said it was an idea that came to him when he was speaking," Peskov said. "Indeed, Mr. [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe said nothing. It was Tokyo and diplomats to react to it."
"Naturally, such initiatives concerning such complicated matters, which have not only foreign policy aspects but also domestic implications, especially in Japan, naturally, it will take time to word a position towards such an initiative. It is quite understandable and it is normal," he noted.
Speaking at a plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia’s Vladivostok on September 12, Putin came out with an initiative to sign the peace treaty with Japan without any preliminary conditions. In reply to TASS’ inquiry, the Japanese foreign ministry said that Tokyo sticks to the position that peace treaty talks with Russia will be conducted after the territorial dispute is settled.
Since mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, all Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhibited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now. The Soviet Union committed to paper in the declaration its readiness to hand over Shikotan and Habomai to Japan as a gesture of good will after the peace treaty is ultimately signed.
The Russian foreign ministry has repeatedly stressed that Russia’s ownership of these islands is fixed in international legal documents and cannot be doubted.