MOSCOW, May 10. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono on Friday. Kono is now in Moscow on a working visit.
Signing a peace treaty between the two countries will be the key topic on the agenda of the talks. Since the beginning of the year, this will be already their third discussion of this issue. Intensification of contacts in this field is the result of an agreement to accelerate the dialogue on the conclusion of a peace treaty based on the 1956 Joint Declaration of the USSR and Japan, which was reached at the highest level in November last year in Singapore.
The ministers will also touch upon other issues on the global and regional agenda. According the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the parties will exchange views on the current situation in the Asia-Pacific region, combating new challenges and threats, cooperation on the international arena.
Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership of the Southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war and restoring diplomatic and consular relations, but no peace treaty has been signed so far.
Moscow and Tokyo have been discussing the conclusion of a peace treaty on various levels but so far they have failed to resolve some obvious disagreements. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated that Japan’s full recognition of the outcome of the Second World War including the legitimate sovereignty of the Russian Federation over all the South Kuril Islands is the main condition for promoting a peace treaty.
The fact that the latest annual report of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the so-called Diplomatic bluebook, lacked the standard phrase about the return of the "four northern islands to the Japanese side," drew attention of journalists. However, as the Japanese Foreign Minister told reporters later, this does not mean that the legal position of the country's government on the islands had changed.
Also, the Kyodo agency earlier reported on the plans of Tokyo to sign a general agreement on a peace treaty and a territorial problem by the visit of the Russian leader to Japan, which is scheduled for June. However, according to the sources of the agency, negotiations on the transfer of islands to Japan have stalled, "and there is no prospect of any progress in this direction." In turn, Moscow is confident that any agreements on this topic should fully meet the interests of both states and be supported by their peoples.