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Tokyo’s latest statements on Kurils distort essence of Putin-Abe agreements — ministry

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the recent statements made by Japanese officials "are misleading the two countries’ general public over the contents of negotiations"
View from one of the Kuril Islands Sergei Krasnoukhov/TASS
View from one of the Kuril Islands
© Sergei Krasnoukhov/TASS

MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. The remarks of Japanese top officials on a peace treaty with Russia grossly distort the essence of agreements between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, following a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and Japan’s Ambassador to Moscow Toyohisa Kozuki.

"On January 9, 2018, Japan’s Ambassador to Russia Toyohisa Kozuki was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry," the statement says. "Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Morgulov told the ambassador that Moscow’s attention was drawn to Japanese top officials’ recent remarks about a peace treaty with Russia. Among them were the need to ‘get an understanding’ from the Southern Kuril residents over ‘the transfer of the islands to Japan', as well as ‘a refusal to demand compensations from Russia’ for Japan and former Japanese residents for ‘post-war occupation of the islands’. Besides, it was announced that the year 2019 would become ‘pivotal’ in the peace treaty issue."

The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that the Japanese ambassador was told that "those statements are grossly distorting the essence of agreements between the leaders of Russia and Japan meant to accelerate the negotiating process on the basis of the 1956 Joint Declaration, and are misleading the two countries’ general public over the contents of negotiations," the ministry said.

"These remarks [by the Japanese top officials about the Kuril Islands] cannot be viewed otherwise but as an attempt to artificially increase pressure around the peace treaty issue and to impose an own scenario of its resolution on the other side," the ministry said.

"In this context, Russia’s unwavering and principled position was highlighted that the peace treaty issue might be resolved in case a qualitatively new atmosphere in the Russian-Japanese relations is created. It should be supported by the two nations and rest in full on Tokyo’s unconditional recognition of the results of World War II, including the Russian Federation’s sovereignty of the Southern Kuril Islands," the ministry said.

Peace treaty issue

On November 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed at the Singapore summit to accelerate the Russian-Japanese peace treaty talks basing on the joint declaration from October 19, 1956. The joint declaration between the Soviet Union and Japan stated that the state of war had ended whereas diplomatic and consular relations were restored.

The peace treaty is expected to be tackled at Abe’s coming visit to Russia in late January. In the run-up to the visit, Abe made some statements expressing his view on the agreements.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue of the Southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war, but no peace treaty has been signed so far.