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TOKYO, October 6. /TASS/. The leading Japanese experts on Russia believe that the fact that Tokyo has joined the anti-Russian sanctions and Japan’s inability to modify its stance on Southern Kuril Islands make it impossible now to make progress on a peace treaty between the two countries, former diplomat and currently director of the Institute for World Affairs Kazuhiko Togo and Professor of the Center for Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the Hokkaido University Akihiro Iwashita said in an interview.
"Until about February 2014 I was confident that there was some progress in relations between the two countries, including on the territorial issue," Professor Togo said. "However, after the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis the deadlock emerged that continues to this day. It is connected with the fact that Japan is trying to simultaneously pursue the policy of sanctions against Russia as a G7 member and to continue talks on the peace treaty attaching great importance to relations with Moscow."
"The situation will not change as long as Japan goes ahead with its current policy," Professor Togo said. "All the positive things accumulated in the relations between our two countries over the past 20-30 years have been destroyed now," he noted.
"There are differences in the positions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Japanese Foreign Ministry with regard to Russia," Professor Iwashita said for his part. According to him, there are many officials in the Foreign Ministry who are pessimistic about the dialogue with Moscow and do not expect any results from it under the current conditions. "At the same time, the premier and his staff would like to do something in this direction, primarily on the territorial issue," he said.
In recent years, the Japanese leaders have repeatedly expressed the desire to continue the negotiations on the conclusion of a peace treaty through resolving the Kuril Islands issue. However, last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida that the islands were not a question under discussion. "Neither the northern territories of Japan nor the northern territories of Russia are the subject of the dialogue," he said.