TOKYO, December 17. /TASS/. Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will make his first visit to Russia on Tuesday to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin.
"I plan to visit Russia on December 17-21," Motegi told reporters last week. "I will hold a meeting with [Russian] Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is responsible for the peace treaty talks. I hope for a frank dialogue for the purpose of solving the territorial issue and signing of peace treaty on the basis of the 1956 joint declaration."
Motegi said his previous two meetings with Lavrov - on the sidelines of international events in New York and Nagoya - were time-limited. This time, he hopes for a more lengthy discussion of bilateral agenda.
After a meeting with Motegi on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in the Japanese city of Nagoya in November, Lavrov said Moscow viewed the US-Japanese military and political alliance as an obstacle for signing the peace treaty. He added that Japanese colleagues had been given a list of concrete security issues, related to the Washington-Tokyo alliance and its constant buildup, which remain a source of concern for Russia.
Japan, which had been occupied by US forces, signed a peace treaty with the allied powers at an international conference in San Francisco in September 1951. Under the accord, signed by Japan and 48 nations of the anti-Hitler coalition, Tokyo renounced "all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands." The document did not specify however, which state these territories were to be transferred to. However, because a number of countries that had suffered from Japanese aggression (primarily, China) had not been invited to the conference, the Soviet delegation refused to sign this treaty, saying it was illegitimate.
Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty ever since. The main stumbling block to this is the sovereignty over the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, all Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of the Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhibited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now. The Soviet Union committed to paper in the declaration its readiness to hand over Shikotan and Habomai to Japan as a gesture of good will after the peace treaty is ultimately signed. The declaration was ratified by the two countries’ parliaments on December 8, 1956.
However following Japan’s signing a security treaty with the United States in 1960, the former Soviet Union revoked its liabilities concerning the transference of islands. The Soviet government said back then that the islands would be handed over to Japan only when all foreign forces were withdrawn from its territory.
At a meeting in Singapore in November 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to invigorate the peace treaty talks on the basis on the 1956 declaration.