TOKYO, November 27. /TASS/. Japan’s former education minister and now a senior official in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Hakubun Shimomura considers the upcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the country in December to be the last chance for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to solve the territorial issue.
"The (upcoming) visit is the last chance," as "Russia is not so easy to deal with," he was quoted as saying by Kyodo news agency.
According to Shimomura, it will not be possible to tackle the issue of ‘northern territories’ (Kuril Islands) for a long time if the sides fail to do it now, and Prime Minister (Shinzo Abe) is aware of the fact. Also, he said, without solving the territorial issue, it is not possible to make a peace treaty between the two neighbors.
At the present time, preparations are underway in Moscow and Tokyo for the forthcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan. According to presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, it will take place on December 15-16. The two countries’ leaders discussed the issue during their meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru on November 19.
Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. The 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.