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Tokyo set for ‘persistent talks’ with Russia on peace treaty, assures official

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga  AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga
© AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

TOKYO, December 19. /TASS/. The Japanese government is determined to hold persistent talks with Moscow on a peace treaty, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo commenting on Japan’s protest over Moscow’s construction of military facilities on the southern Kuril Islands.

"In order to finally solve this problem the issue of the Northern Territories [the Southern Kuril Islands] needs to be solved and a peace treaty should be signed with Russia. We will hold persistent talks with Russia on the basis of this fundamental position," Suga said.

Earlier the Kyodo news agency reported that the Japanese government voiced protest over Russia’s construction of military dormitories on the Southern Kuril Islands. The statement was made via diplomatic channels in Moscow, the news agency reported citing the Foreign Ministry.

The statement says that the construction of these facilities boosts the presence of Russian forces on the four islands, which runs counter to Japan’s position on these territories. On Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono announced plans to voice protest against Russia over this issue.

Colonel Alexander Gordeyev, a spokesman for the Eastern Military District, said earlier this week that military servicemen would settle into the dormitories on Iturup and Kunashir by the end of 2018. He added that military servicemen had moved to two similar dormitories in 2017, while three more - two in Iturup and one in Kunashir - would be built and commissioned in 2019.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership of the Southern Kuril Islands. 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 is being challenged by Japan. Russia’s Foreign Ministry has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war and restoring diplomatic and consular relations, but no peace treaty has been signed so far.