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Japan to hold dialogue with Russia based on existing agreements, PM says

The prime minister again reiterated Japan’s stance that the Southern Kuril Islands fall under Tokyo’s sovereignty

TOKYO, October 13. /TASS/. The Japanese government intends to hold talks with Russia with regards to a peace treaty based on existing agreements, including those reached in Singapore in 2018, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during parliamentary debates on Wednesday.

"Japan will be engaged [in this issue] on the basis of the existing bilateral agreements including those reached in Singapore," he said. The prime minister again reiterated Japan’s stance that the Southern Kuril Islands fall under Tokyo’s sovereignty. "The government intends to conclude the peace treaty with Russia resolving the issue of these islands’ belonging," he added.

On Tuesday, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Russia disagreed with Tokyo’s claims with regards to its sovereignty stretching to the Southern Kuril Islands. The Kremlin official stressed that this was Russia’s territory.

Since the middle of the last century, Moscow and Tokyo have been intermittently negotiating a peace agreement following World War II. The main obstacle to its conclusion was the question of the ownership of the southern part of the Kuril ridge. In 1945, the entire archipelago was incorporated into the Soviet Union, but the Japanese side disputes the belonging of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and the group of now uninhabited islands, which in Japan is called Habomai. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stressed that Russian sovereignty over them, which has the appropriate international legal form, is beyond question.

In November 2018, Putin and 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 declaration 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.

The declaration was ratified by the Russian and Japanese parliaments on December 8, 1956. As the Russian side has repeatedly stated, this document clearly indicates that the ownership issue can be considered only after reaching a peace agreement.