MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Moscow and Tokyo will continue to stimulate economic activity in Southern Kuril Islands, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday on the outcomes of the talks with his Japanese colleague Toshimitsu Motegi.
"We have already carried out pilot activities in the sphere of tourism and waste management. The rest of the approved areas — aquaculture, wind energy and greenhouse farming — will become a subject of practical discussions soon," Lavrov said. "We have agreed to stimulate professional work in each of these five areas."
According to the Russian foreign minister, the sides noted that some systemic issues still need to be resolved in order to implement the projects, including the movement of those involved in joint economic activity and some legal aspects related to the Russian legislation.
Moscow and Tokyo are holding talks on the issues of joint economic activity in the Southern Kuril Islands in five areas — aquaculture, greenhouse farming, tourism, wind energy and waste management. The sides consider establishment of cooperation in these areas an important step towards the signing of a peace treaty.
Dispute over the Kuril Islands
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 key sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands.
In November 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 accelerate the pace of the peace negotiations based on the 1956 Joint Declaration. The document ended the state of war and said that the Soviet government was ready to hand Shikotan Island and a group of small islands called Habomai over to Japan on condition that Tokyo would take control of them once 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.
Russia has stated on numerous occasions that the document does not set out handover conditions and thus requires further clarification.