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TOKYO, April 15. /TASS/. Japan’s position on signing a peace treaty with Russia and on the territorial dispute has not changed, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told a press conference on Friday after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
"Talking about the issue of a peace treaty and territorial dispute, the position of Japan - both historical and legal - has not changed," Kishida said.
He also noted that the problem of signing a peace treaty is connected with the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. "The problem of a peace treaty is the problem of ‘northern territories’ (Kuril Islands)," he said.
However, the Japanese foreign minister stressed that Moscow and Tokyo will continue dialogue on this issue. "Talking about negotiations on signing a peace treaty which we are holding on the orders of the heads of states of our countries, we agreed to discuss this issue as soon as possible after the visit of our prime minister to Russia," Kishida said.
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, it is necessary to generally improve the relations between Russia and Japan in order to achieve progress in the peace talks and lift artificial barriers in cooperation development.
"In order to advance - and we do want to advance - it is necessary to drastically improve the atmosphere of our relations, including removal of artificial barriers to all-round, without any shortcomings or omissions, development of cooperation in all spheres, including, of course, closer cooperation on the global arena," the top Russian diplomat said.
"Russia and Japan are guided by the position based on the international law, UN Charter, where the results of the Second World War are fixed, as well as existing agreements between our countries," Lavrov told a press conference on Friday after talks with his Japanese counterpart.
The foreign minister noted that the declaration of 1956 states "concrete things on consecutive steps and coordinating further actions." "We will proceed from that," he noted.
In an interview with Mongolian, Japanese and Chinese media on April 12, Lavrov said that prospects of signing a peace treaty between Russia and Japan should not be reduced to the territorial dispute. The only document signed and ratified by the two sides - Join Declaration of 1956 - says that the sides refused any claims against each other, and that the most urgent task is to sign a peace treaty. Lavrov also noted that Moscow and Tokyo will hold the next round of talks on peace treaty soon.
Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. Settlement of the problem inherited by Russia’s diplomacy from the Soviet Union is hampered by the years-long dispute over the four islands of Russia’s Southern Kurils Shikotan, Khabomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories.
After World War II, in September 1945, Japan signed the capitulation, and in February 1946, the Kuril Islands were declared territories of the Soviet Union.
During the Cold War, Moscow did not recognize the territorial problem, but in October 1993, when Russian president Boris Yeltsin was on an official visit in Japan, the existence of the problem was confirmed officially. However, the two countries have reached no compromise over the dispute yet.