MOSCOW, January 14./TASS/. Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Takeo Mori and his Russian counterpart Igor Morgulov will hold consultations on Tuesday, January 15, in the furtherance of the foreign ministers’ talks on a peace treaty, Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Takeshi Osuga told journalists on Monday.
"It was agreed that tomorrow Mr. Mori and Mr. Morgulov will have consultations. It was also agreed that the next ministerial level meeting will be held on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference if both foreign ministers attend that conference," Osuga said.
He also said Tokyo wants to work with Russia to step up efforts towards reaching an agreement on the issue of a peace treaty, as the leaders of the two countries agreed at their meeting in Buenos Aires in December 2018. Osuga declined, however, to give forecasts as to when such an agreement could be reached, confirming the aim of signing a peace treaty.
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 on numerous occasions 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.