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TOKYO, December 14. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s upcoming visit to Japan on December 15-16 is a starting line to solve bilateral problems, including the peace treaty and the territorial issue, Japanese ex-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said in an exclusive interview with TASS on Wednesday.
"Of course, Japan expects that [during the visit] the issue of the final solution on the northern territories [the name for the Russian southern Kuril Islands used in Japan] will be touched upon. But at the start, there should be no hopes for serious results. It seems to me that it is better to consider that now we are at the starting line to solve this problem and it is good that efforts have begun to address it in earnest," Hatoyama said.
"I believe that now time will be needed and it will be necessary to work constantly without breaks and, of course, face a host of problems but if this is considered as a start, then we’ll be able to deepen trustworthy relations between the countries little by little and elaborate a strategy of solving this problem," the ex-premier said.
The former Japanese premier said that "if both sides do not agree to a compromise, there will be no final solution."
"There should be no hurry in achieving the solution to the problem immediately. Most likely, as I already said, I consider the current state as a starting line and it is necessary to pave the way for starting the solution and state each party’s position and look what we will thus come to - such a compromise is now needed," Hatoyama said.
Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. The settlement of this 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 its 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 then-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.