TOKYO, May 24. /TASS/. Japan’s government believes that Moscow and Tokyo need to sign a peace treaty in order to enable them to build a relationship fulfilling their genuine potential, Head of the Japanese Ministry’s European Affairs Bureau Yasushi Masaki said in an interview with TASS on Thursday.
"Our countries … as important partners in the Asia-Pacific region and great powers of this region need to sign a peace treaty to build a relationship that would match our potential," said the Japanese diplomat, who has been actively involved in gearing up for the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Russia on May 24-27.
"The peace treaty problem is a challenging task, which our predecessors have been unable to sign for more than 70 years," he noted. "However, the leaders of Japan and Russia share the stance that the absence of a peace treaty for more than 70 years since the war ended is abnormal and expressed sincere determination to solve the peace treaty issue during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan," he explained.
After that, the Russian and Japanese leaders continued enhancing dialogue based on a relationship of trust. The two countries decided to work on projects in five areas - marine culture, tourism, greenhouse business, wind power and waste recycling on the Southern Kuril Islands, he recalled.
The diplomat noted the success in arranging visa-free trips to the Southern Kuril Islands for their former Japanese residents. Last year, they were able to take a flight to visit the graves of their ancestors, rather than travel by ship there. This made it possible to organize more convenient trips for the elderly.
"Thanks to these efforts, the citizens of Japan and Russia will shape the future image of the four islands (Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands) resulting in deepening mutual understanding and trust, and this will become a big plus for signing a peace treaty," he stressed.
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 issue over 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, but no peace treaty has been signed so far.