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Tokyo should recognize Russia's sovereignty over Kurils to conclude peace treaty - Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister noted, that the 1956 declaration also clearly states that first Russia's territorial integrity and sovereignty over all its lands are recognized, and then everything else will possibly be discussed
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov  Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov
© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

NAGOYA, November 23. /TASS/. Japan should recognize Russia's sovereignty over the Southern Kuril Islands so that both countries can move towards signing a peace treaty, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Saturday.

Russia’s top diplomat thus commented on a statement by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga that the Japanese government would continue negotiations with Russia on a peace treaty proceeding from its baseline position: first to settle the territorial problem and then to conclude a peace treaty.

"With all the respect for the Chief Cabinet Secretary, we are nonetheless guided by the agreements that are reached at the highest level between the Russian president and the Japanese prime minister. They have agreed to move forward in discussing the problems that remain, proceeding from the 1956 declaration, which clearly states that first Russia's territorial integrity and sovereignty over all our lands, including those territories, are recognized, thus recognizing the results of World War II, and then everything else will possibly be discussed," Lavrov said.

Military alliance between US and Japan

The minister also told, that US-Japanses military-political alliance creates obstacles for signing a peace treaty with Moscow.

"The military alliance with the US, of course, represents a problem when it comes to taking Russian-Japanese relations to another level. I will remind you that when the 1956 declaration was being coordinated, the USSR said back then that everything may be implemented, and this declaration may be fully implemented only in the context of discontinued US military presence on Japan's territory," Lavrov said.

He added that "Japanese colleagues received a list of Russia's specific security concerns which emerge because of increasing and strengthening Japanese-US military-political alliance." "So our Japanese colleagues promised to react to those concerns. We will wait for their response and continue discussions," he noted.

Russia as a threat for US

Lavrov pointed out, that Russia has drawn Japan’s attention to the fact that Washington defines Moscow as a threat and the Japanese-US military and political alliance will rely on this, which contradicts the Japanese leadership’s assurances that this union is not aimed against Moscow.

"As for the US behavior in the world, including in the Asia-Pacific region, in its relations with Japan, the United States does not hesitate to publicly acknowledge that Russia and China are the main threat to it and that all its military alliances with Japan, Australia and the Republic of Korea will be built proceeding from these threats and challenges," Lavrov said at the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting.

"But, of course, we pointed out at a meeting with the Japanese foreign minister that this ran counter to the assurances, which Japan gives us that the Japanese-US military and political alliance is not aimed against the Russian Federation," Lavrov said.

Moscow will continue its dialogue with Japan on this issue, including during a visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi to Russia already in December, Lavrov said.

"We will continue the dialogue. The Japanese foreign minister will pay his first visit in this capacity to the Russian Federation soon, already in December. Of course, this will be one of the central issues of our discussions," Russia’s top diplomat said.

The Russian and Japanese foreign ministers held their negotiations on November 22.

A peace treaty

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 status of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the status of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated on numerous occasions that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond any doubt. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ending the state of war, but no peace treaty has been signed to date.