MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. Russia is interested in continuing dialogue with Japan, particularly on issues of joint business activities in the Southern Kuril Islands, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday, noting that the Kremlin hopes to resume highest-level contacts as soon as the epidemiological situation permits.
"We are interested in having dialogue with Japan, we are interested in maintaining and developing the dialogue structure that have been established in the last few years," Peskov said when asked if Moscow sees room for talks with Japan on the issue of the Kurils.
The Kremlin spokesman recalled that the Russian president and the Japanese prime minister have had many conversations in the last 3-4 years. "We hope that as soon as circumstances permit this dialogue on the highest-level will resume, and all most current issues of our bilateral relations will be discussed in this dialogue," he added.
On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that Tokyo intends to continue following the agreements reached with Moscow earlier to ramp up talks on a peace treaty based on the 1956 Soviet-Japanese joint declaration. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at the same meeting that Japan continues to engage in consultations with Russia on issues of joint business activities in the Southern Kuril Islands. In particular, he noted that this topic is discussed online.
For many decades, Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty after World War II. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan. 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 has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.