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TOKYO, January 22. /TASS/. It is important for Japan to develop relations with Russia and use every opportunity to facilitate a political dialogue aimed at solving the terrirotial issue and concluding a peace treaty, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday delivering a keynote speech on the country’s foreign policy during the 190th session of parliament.
"This year it is necessary to push forward the Japanese-Russian relations in such a way as to meet our national interests. To solve the territorial issue and conclude a peace treaty we will facilitate the political dialogue using every opportunity for that," he said. Kishida also noted that the bilateral consultations on concluding a peace treaty that had been suspended earlier had resumed in Moscow in October.
The Japanese foreign minister also touched upon the situation on Ukraine. "We attach great importance to maintaining contacts within the G7 aimed at the peaceful resolution of the situation in Ukraine, and, as the G7 chair this year, we will play a positive role," he said.
Earlier on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe too pointed to the importance of developing relations with Russia. "We want to build relations with Russia to jointly solve various issues facing the world," he said. "To resolve the territorial dispute and conclude a peace treaty we will, step by step, cement relations in a wide range of areas, such as economy, energy sector and culture. We will seek every opportunity for building the dialogue," Abe added. Besides, it was announced following today’s Cabinet meeting that a new position at the government had been established, namely, of special envoy for relations with Russia, taken up by former Ambassador to Russia Tikahito Harada.
On January 19, Kishida, speaking about the possibility of Abe’s visit to Russia and the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan, noted that nothing had been finalized yet. On November 16, during the G20 Antalya summit Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Japanese premier could visit one of Russia’s regions before Putin’s visit to Tokyo. He noted that the president’s visit "would be further discussed." "It is possible that the visit of the Japanese prime minister to one of Russia’s regions will take place before that, this will be a topic for discussion," Peskov noted.
The main stumbling block to fully mending the Russian-Japanese relations and signing a peace treaty is the Kuril Islands dispute. After World War II all the Kurile Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan claims sovereignty over Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai islands.