ST. PETERSBURG, May 25. /TASS/. The Southern Kuril Islands may become a symbol of Japanese-Russian cooperation once stability is established in the relations between the two nations, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday.
"What will the world be like when lasting stability is established between Japan and Russia? The islands, once a core of the dispute, will become a symbol of Japanese-Russian cooperation opening new possibilities as a logistics stronghold," he said at a plenary session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
According to the Japanese prime minister, the Sea of Japan in such conditions will turn into a "logistics highway."
Since mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, all Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhibited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now. The Soviet Union committed to paper in the declaration its readiness to hand over Shikotan and Habomai to Japan as a gesture of good will after the peace treaty is ultimately signed.
The Russian foreign ministry has repeatedly said stressed that Russia’s ownership of these islands is fixed in international legal documents and cannot be doubted.