TOKYO, December 16. /TASS/. A meeting of the working groups on the joint economic activity on the Southern Kuril Islands will be held on December 18 in Moscow, the Japanese Foreign Ministry reported.
It noted that the meeting in Moscow would bring together the leaders of the group in charge of the commercial aspects of the joint economic activity, specifically, Director of the Department for Support of Asia-Pacific Region Projects at the Russian Foreign Ministry Natalya Stapran and Director-General of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s European Affairs Bureau Yasushi Masaki, as well as heads of the Group on Consular and Logistics Issues - Deputy Director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Consular Department Nail Latypov and adviser of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s European Affairs Bureau Toshihiro Aiki. Representatives of the two countries’ government agencies related to joint activities on these islands are expected to take part in the meeting as well.
The agreement to hold a meeting of the working groups was reached at the talks between the two countries’ top diplomats, Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono, in Moscow in late November. The working groups are expected to make a decision on the dates for the next round of talks chaired by deputy foreign ministers. It is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of next year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said after his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on September 7 that the Russian and Japanese Foreign Ministries had selected a number of promising projects on the islands, namely, in aquaculture, wind power, waste processing, tourism and the creation of greenhouse facilities.
The two sides consider joint economic activities to be a step towards concluding a peace treaty. Meanwhile, Japanese analysts say Tokyo and Moscow have different views regarding the implementation of these projects. Russia proposes to do that within the framework of the Russian legislation, while Japan suggests that a certain ‘special system’ should be established on these territories.
Moscow and Tokyo have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the middle of last century. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of 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 challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated on numerous occasions 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, but no peace treaty has been signed until now.