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Japan gives up plans to sign agreement on peace treaty with Russia in June - paper

According Asahi, the sides failed to overcome disagreements on a number of historical issues and security matters

TOKYO, June 1. /TASS/. The Japanese government has decided to reject the idea of signing a framework agreement with Russia on a peace treaty during the G20 summit in Osaka in late June, the Asahi news paper said on Saturday citing government sources.

According to the paper, the sides failed to overcome disagreements on a number of historical issues and security matters. Earlier, the Japanese side expected to prepare the framework agreement before the G20 summit due on June 28-29, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are scheduled to have a working meeting.

By signing the deal, Tokyo wanted to confirm the 1956 joint declaration by the Soviet Union and Japan, in which Moscow states its readiness to hand over the Shikotan and Habomai islands of the southern Kuril chain as a goodwill gesture once the peace treaty is signed. After that, Japan planned to engage in negotiations with Russia on sovereignty over the remaining two disputed islands - Iturup and Kunashir.

However, several rounds of talks at the level of foreign ministers, held earlier this year, demonstrated that Russia was concerned by the possible deployment of US-made Aegis Ashore ground-based missile defense systems on those islands. Besides, the Russian side demanded that Japan recognized the legitimacy of Russia’s sovereignty over the southern part of the Kuril Islands, which became the country’s territory after World War II. Japan viewed that demand as inadmissible.

According to Asahi, ahead of the G20 summit Russia and Japan would focus on developing joint economic activities on the Southern Kurils. At the same time, Tokyo hopes that the Russian-Japanese dialogue on a peace treaty would continue in the long-term perspective.

Peace treaty 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 laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a joint 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 cannot be called into question.

On November 14, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Singapore and agreed that the two countries would speed up peace treaty talks based on the 1956 declaration. The two countries’ foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono, oversee the negotiations conducted by their deputies, Igor Morgulov and Takeo Mori.

The Joint Declaration said that the Soviet government was ready to hand Shikotan Island and a group of small islands over to Japan, adding that Tokyo would get actual control of the islands after a peace treaty was signed. However, after Japan and the United States had signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, the Soviet Union withdrew its obligation to hand over the islands. A Soviet government’s memorandum dated January 27, 1960, said that those islands would only be handed over to Japan if all foreign troops were pulled out of the country.