TOKYO, December 3. /TASS/. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has confirmed his intention Thursday to hold persistent talks with Russia aimed at "returning the northern territories" as Tokyo calls the South Kuril Islands.
"Seventy years have passed since the end of the (Second World) war. However, unfortunately, the northern territories have not been returned, and the problem has not been solved," Abe said at a meeting with Nemuro mayor. "I want to continue holding persistent talks aimed at returning the northern territories and reaching a peace treaty (with Russia). We will do this with the government to fulfill the dearest dreams of former residents of the islands," he added. Many former residents of the South Kuril Islands and their descendants live in and around Nemuro.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said earlier that Tokyo will react by diplomatic channels to the statement made by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on December 1 about construction of additional military infrastructure on Iturup and Kunashir.
Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. Settlement of the problem inherited by Russia’s diplomacy from the Soviet Union is hampered by the years-long dispute over the four islands of Russia’s Southern Kurils - Shikotan, Khabomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories.
After World War II, in September 1945, Japan signed the capitulation, and in February 1946, the Kuril Islands were declared territories of the Soviet Union.
During the Cold War, Moscow did not recognize the territorial problem, but in October 1993, when Russian president Boris Yeltsin was on an official visit in Japan, the existence of the problem was confirmed officially. However, the two countries have reached no compromise over the dispute yet.