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TOKYO, January 7. /TASS/. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has spoken in favor of continuing talks with Russia to find a solution to the territorial dispute.
"No progress [on the territorial dispute] has been reached in 70 years. If no talks are conducted, it will be 100 years and [the issue] will become history," Kyodo quoted him as saying at a meeting with his supporters in the Yamaguchi Prefecture where he had welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the first day of his visit to Japan.
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 southern 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.
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.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan on December 15-16, 2016 and his talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yielded a joint statement where the two leaders noted that "the start of consultations on joint economic activity of Russia and Japan on the South Kuril Islands may become an important step towards signing a peace treaty." Besides, the parties consider that the statement and any agreements reached on its basis on establishing joint economic activity and its implementation "cause no damage for the positions of Russia and Japan on the peace treaty issue.".