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TOKYO, January 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Japan’s former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori is actively promoting relations with Russia to favour compromise in the two countries’ dispute about ownership of the far eastern South Kuril islands.
“A concrete decision is to be made,” he told a media briefing at Kyodo news agency on Monday, adding that this was the task of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mori noted several possible options, in particular granting the lesser territory to Japan - Shikotan and the uninhabited group of islets called Habomai in Japan and deemed a single island for convenience.
Such a proposal is also stipulated in the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration that resumed diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1956. But the pre-condition was a peace treaty, an idea then rejected by the Japanese government amid the Cold War.
Other proposed options are to divide the islands into two equal parts, or to give Japan Shikotan and Habomai and make the rest, Iturup and Kunashiri, joint property, the former premier moots.
Mori held the prime minister's post in 2000-2001 during which and subsequently he often visited Russia, meeting the Russian president and travelling to Moscow as special representative of the Japanese prime minister. He was honoured with the Russian Order of Friendship for active work in promoting mutual understanding between the two countries.
Mori has previously spoken in favour of territorial division, saying, though, that this was his personal opinion. Last year, public opinion soundings showed that more than 67 percent of Japanese people were for flexibility in resolving the territorial issue and thought Japan should not insist on having all the four islands.
Meanwhile, Japan's official line strives for them, saying it is ready for a flexible approach to terms and conditions of transition once Russia accepts Japanese sovereignty there.