TOKYO, November 22. /TASS/. The Japanese government is set to continue relations with Russia in the coming year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday during his address to parliament.
"During the next year, declared the Year of Japan and Russia in our countries, we intend to continue actively developing ties with Russia in various domains," he said. "This applies to intensive negotiations on the issue of sovereignty over the four northern islands [Japan’s name for Russia’s Southern Kurils], and on signing of a peace treaty."
He added that Moscow and Tokyo are actively developing the issue of joint Russian-Japanese business activities on Southern Kurils.
After a meeting with Abe in Vladivostok on September 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin said diplomats from the two countries have selected a number of projects to be carried out jointly on the Kuril Islands, including in aquaculture, wind power, waste processing, tourism and the creation of greenhouse facilities.
The sides view joint business activity on the islands as a step towards signing a peace treaty. At the same time, according to Japanese observers, Moscow and Tokyo disagree on a number of issues regarding the implementation of joint projects. Russia insists that they must be carried out under the Russian legislation, while Tokyo suggests creating a "special system" on the above-mentioned territory.
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.