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Russia FM stresses Japan peace treaty is not synonymous with solving territorial issue

The peace treaty is a step that is needed for the relations between the two countries to be "normal not only in fact but also in legal implementation"

MOSCOW, January 26. /TASS/. Moscow considers that signing a peace treaty with Tokyo is not synonymous with solving the long-running territorial dispute, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the annual press conference on Tuesday.

"We do not consider that the peace treaty is synonymous with solving the territorial problem. This is a step that is needed for the relations between the two countries to be normal not only in fact but also in legal implementation," Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said the Russian president and Japan’s prime minister have agreed that the peace treaty should be necessarily among those issues that are due to be solved.

"We are interested in the closest and warmest relations with Japan, this is our important neighbor with which we have a broad network of trade and economic, humanitarian and cultural ties and many plans," Lavrov said.

Japan’s companies actively work on Russia’s market in the sphere of developing and processing hydrocarbons, car manufacturing and other high-technology spheres. "We want these projects to multiply in the interests of two countries and our nations."

Lavrov reminded that the only document that was signed and ratified by the two countries in 1956 was the so-called declaration that says that a peace treaty should be signed. The document also says that then the Soviet Union could possibly hand over these two southern islands as a "gesture of good will."

"This declaration first of all proceeded from the main thesis - it confirmed that the Soviet Union and Japan recognized the results of World War II," he said, adding that it is impossible to move forward without confirming this position.

Duma speaker will visit Japan this year 

According to the minister, Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin will pay a visit to Japan in 2016.

"Our humanitarian ties are developing very well," Lavrov said. "The festival of Russian culture is annually held in Japan. State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin visits opening ceremonies. This will also happen this year," he added.

"We are ready to and we will conduct the dialogue," the minister said. "The next round of talks will take place in February at the level of deputy foreign ministers. We’ll discuss the issues raised by the Japanese side. We don’t avoid any questions, but I’d like to repeat that the historical aspect and, above all, the results of World War II - is the part of this dialogue, which cannot be bypassed, forgotten and put aside. We’ll be stumbling upon this problem all the time. And our Japanese colleagues know this."

"We need to find a consensus on these historical aspects," the minister said. "We ask nothing out of the way, we ask Japan, like other countries that have signed and ratified the Charter of the United Nations, to say that it is committed to the UN Charter in all its parts, including Article 107, which says that the results of World War II are not subject to revision. I don’t think that this is an excessive demand."

The long-running dispute over the Southern Kuril Islands remains the main obstacle for the settlement in the relations between Russia and Japan and signing of the peace treaty. After the end of World War II, all the Kuril Islands were declared the territory of the Soviet Union. Japan claims Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Khabomai as part of its territory.