TOKYO, September 8. /TASS/. The Japanese government’s position on the "northern territories" [that is what Japan calls Russia’s South Kuril Islands - TASS] will not change, as well as its stance on carrying out joint economic activities with Russia in the area, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday.
"Our main statement is that Japan’s position on the northern territories and joint economic activities will not change," he said. "We will continue detailed talks with Russia bearing in mind our position that the territorial issue concerning the four islands should be resolved and a peace treaty should be signed." At the same time, Suga mentioned an agreement reached at the Vladivostok summit to send another delegation comprising Japanese officials and businessmen to the South Kuril Islands to assess joint economic projects on the ground.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said earlier that Moscow and Tokyo had been considering four to five fields of cooperation on the South Kuril islands. According to the Japanese media, they particularly include tourism, wind energy and the development of aquaculture.
South Kuril Islands issue
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. 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.
According to the Japanese media, Tokyo and Moscow have not yet agreed on ways to carry out economic cooperation that would create no legal issues. Moscow believes that cooperation should be conducted in accordance with Russia laws, while Tokyo insists on setting up "a special system" on the islands.