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Japanese top diplomat hopes for flexibility in solving Kuril Islands issue with Russia

August 23, 2017, 8:13 UTC+3 TOKYO

The recently appointed minister also said that he would like to visit Russia

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TOKYO, August 23. /TASS/. Japan’s recently appointed Foreign Minister Taro Kono hopes that the sides would demonstrate a flexibility of approaches in solving the Kuril Island dispute with Moscow, the minister said in an interview with the Yomiuri newspaper on Wednesday.

"Maybe we will be able to solve something if both sides think flexibly? This also applies to the use of approaches that are not being used at present," he said.

"I would like to visit Russia when the time is ripe," added the diplomat, who was appointed to the post on August 3, following the large-scale overhaul of the Japanese government.

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.

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