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TOKYO, December 20. /TASS/. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit Russia in the beginning of the next year for holding talks on the peace treaty, the Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.
"I want to use a convenient moment to improve relations," Abe said during his lecture in Tokyo.
Speaking on the territorial dispute, the Japanese premier said "without following a new approach there can be no final solution to the problem."
"The development of economic relations is a short way to solve the peace treaty issue that demands time," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Japan on December 15-16 and held talks with Abe. In an exclusive interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman, Abe said the talks with the Russian leader became an important step for signing a peace treaty.
Abe said Putin’s visit "gave a new impetus and prompted a new rise in the Russian-Japanese relations." The signing of the peace treaty "will lead to a big leap forward in relations between the two countries," he added.
Since mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of the ownership of the South Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II all Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and the Habomai Islands is challenged by Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now. The Soviet Union committed to paper in the declaration its readiness to hand over Shikotan and Habomai to Japan as a gesture of good will after the peace treaty is ultimately signed. Japan’s position is that the peace treaty should be signed after solving the issue of the ownership of all four South Kuril Islands.