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Russia’s top diplomat rules out peace treaty negotiations with Tokyo on Japan’s terms

February 24, 10:48 UTC+3

According to Russia’s top diplomat, solving such complicated tasks requires not only creating a proper atmosphere, but also filling economic, political and diplomatic relations with practical contents

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© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, February ·24. /TASS/. Moscow has not been negotiating a peace treaty with Japan on Tokyo’s terms, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday in an interview to Vietnam’s national broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV), China’s CCTV and Phoenix TV.

According to Russia’s top diplomat, solving such complicated tasks requires not only creating a proper atmosphere, but also filling economic, political and diplomatic relations with practical contents.

"If we take a look at the real situation, [Japanese Prime Minister] Shinzo Abe, tells the parliament that he plans to solve the peace treaty issue on Japan’s terms. Frankly, I have no idea of where this opinion of his comes from," he said.

"Neither Russian President Vladimir Putin, nor me, nor anyone else taking part in Russian-Japanese consultations has ever given our Japanese colleagues grounds for such statements," Lavrov continued. "The fact that on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Singapore Putin and Abe spoke of the need to speed up the work on a peace treaty on the basis of the 1956 declaration, testifies to the opposite: we are negotiating not on Japan’s terms, but on terms of this document."

Lavrov said that in order for the peace treaty to be signed, Japan must recognize the results of World War II in their entirety, including Russia’s sovereignty over all islands of the Kuril Archipelago including the four islands of the Lesser Kuril Chain.

"It is weird enough that our Japanese colleagues are not willing to accept the results of World War II the way they are sealed by the UN Charter. It says that everything done by the victorious powers is out of discussion," he said. "Even if the Japanese have their own interpretation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty and other documents related to this region, they had nevertheless ratified the UN charter, and it would be incorrect to withdraw their ratification now."

Commenting on Japan’s previously announced plan on signing a framework agreement on a peace treaty during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to the country, Lavrov said he would "prefer it to remain on their conscience."

"There were no agreements, and there can be none, because we have never supported any kind of artificial timeframes created for any problem," Russia’s top diplomat continued. "Moreover, none of us has ever seen any kind of framework agreement. I have no idea of what our Japanese colleagues mean."

Lavrov also said that despite Moscow and Tokyo’s declared agreement to bring relations to a new level, Japan had joined "a wide range of sanctions against Russia, which can hardly be viewed as a friendly stance."

Besides, Tokyo sides with US on all UN resolutions directed against Moscow and either opposes or abstains as far as projects proposed by Russia are concerned, Lavrov said.

"Generally speaking, Tokyo has been coordinating its UN stance with Washington," he said. "We don’t mind Japan cooperating with other states, but the United States has designated Russia - naturally, together with China - as its main adversaries.".

Tokyo’s plans to hold consultations with Washington on making a peace treaty with Moscow point to Japan’s lack of independence, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Vietnam’s national broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV), China’s CCTV and Phoenix TV.

"It has been announced recently that US President Donald Trump plans to visit Japan in late May and issues concerning Japan’s peace treaty with Russia will be on the agenda. If Japan shows its lack of independence to such an extent, I have nothing more to say. There is a military union between Japan the US, which is also an important factor. The Americans have the right to deploy their troops to Japan and are already deploying their air defense system there, which creates risks both for Russia and China, and we have spoken about it on numerous occasions," the Russian top diplomat pointed out, adding that the US had designated Russia as its main adversary.

Nevertheless, in Lavrov’s worlds, Moscow is ready to continue dialogue with Tokyo as it sees prospects for boosting relations. "Our cultural and humanitarian cooperation has been progressing," he said, mentioning the Russian Seasons event and the Festival of Russian Culture, which "are very popular in Japan." "We also have good joint economic projects and it’s not that Japan is doing Russia a favor for they are the projects that Japanese businessmen are interested in. They would be interested in strengthening their presence in Russia even more but as far as I understand, the country’s authorities have been containing them," the Russian foreign minister noted.

"We have been receiving signals that as soon as a peace treaty is signed on Japan’s conditions, Japanese investments will come to us like manna from heaven. But this is not what we agreed on," Lavrov emphasized.

Peace treaty issue

Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the key sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands.

In November 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Singapore and agreed that the two countries would accelerate the pace of the peace negotiations based on the 1956 Joint Declaration. The document ended the state of war and said that the Soviet government was ready to hand Shikotan Island and a group of small islands called Habomai over to Japan on condition that Tokyo would take control of them once a peace treaty was signed.

However, after Japan and the United States had signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, the Soviet Union withdrew its obligation to hand over the islands. A Soviet government’s memorandum dated January 27, 1960, said that those islands would only be handed over to Japan if all foreign troops were pulled out of the country.

Russia has pointed out on numerous occasions that the document does not set out handover conditions and thus requires further clarification.

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