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TOKYO, July 7. /TASS/. The Japanese government’s position on the attribution of the "four northern islands" (that is what Japan calls Russia’s South Kuril Islands - TASS) has not changed, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.
"Our legal position on the attribution of the four northern islands remains unchanged," he pointed out. "We will continue to pursue it in the future," he added. Suga also said that Russia’s decision to declare the South Kuril Islands a priority development territory would not change "Japan’s legal position" on the attribution of the islands.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev said on Thursday that a decision had been made to declare the South Kuril Islands a priority development territory. According to him, within a week, the necessary documents will be drawn up to be submitted to the government. He added that there was "an investor ready to put money into fish processing." The deputy prime minister noted that it was a Russian company. Trutnev said earlier that the South Kuril priority development territory could be set up either with or without Japan’s assistance.
Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan has laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a common declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached. Moscow has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands could not be questioned.
On December 15-16, 2016, the Russian president visited Japan for the first in 11 years. The peace treaty issue and the South Kuril Islands issue topped the agenda, while bilateral cooperation was also discussed. Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adopted a joint statement saying that consultations on joint economic activities on the South Kuril Islands could become an important step on the way to a peace treaty. The first consultations on joint economic activities, involving the Russian and Japanese deputy foreign ministers, were held in Tokyo on March 18. After the consultations, Japan said that participants in the meeting had presented their specific plans on cooperation in healthcare, tourism industry and fishery.