TOKYO, September 24. /TASS/. As many as 75% of Japanese citizens polled by the Yomiuri newspaper spoke out against making an unconditional peace treaty with Russia, the paper said on Monday.
Most of the poll’s participants said they supported the position of Japan’s government, which believed that the issue of the "Northern Territories" [which is what Japan calls Russia’s South Kuril Islands - TASS] must be resolved before Tokyo and Moscow signed a peace treaty.
Another poll, conducted by Japan’s leading financial newspaper Nikkei, showed that 66% of those surveyed call for resolving the territorial dispute first, while 19% oppose the Japanese government’s stance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested at the Eastern Economic Forum’s plenary session on September 12 that Moscow and Tokyo should make a peace treaty without any preconditions before the end of the year. When asked to comment on the Russian president’s initiative, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told TASS that Tokyo planned to hold peace treaty talks with Moscow once the territorial dispute was resolved and that position remained unchanged.
South Kuril Islands issue
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 sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a common declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached. Moscow has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands cannot be called into question.