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Japan's Abe reiterates Tokyo's stance on southern Kuril Islands

The prime minister regards the disputed islands as Japan's "ancestral territories"

TOKYO, January 30. /TASS/. Japan considers the "northern territories" (the southern Kuril Islands - TASS) to be its ancestral territories, and the Japanese government did not change its position, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday during a debate in the lower parliamentary chamber.

"The northern territories are our ancestral territories. There are no changes in this position," Abe stressed. He added that the consistent position of the Japanese government is to determine the sovereignty of "all four islands" [Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and a group of islands which Japan calls Habomai - TASS] and sign a peace treaty on this basis.

"There are ongoing negotiations [with the Russian side] on the basis of the documents and agreements that were signed. However, the Japanese-Soviet declaration of 1956 is the only document that was ratified by the parliamentary members of both countries and it still has legal force," the Japanese prime minister said. Abe reiterated that "the ninth section of this document stipulates the continuation of negotiations on the signing of the peace treaty and determines that after its signing Japan will receive the Habomai string and Shikotan Island."

"Apart from this, I would like to refrain from more specific reference about the positions on which negotiations are being conducted and about the terms that are being used in order to avoid the negative effect over the negotiation process," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe added.

The negotiations

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to galvanize negotiations on the peace treaty in November last year in Singapore, then at a meeting in Buenos Aires on the sidelines of a G20 summit on December 1 the two state leaders declared the creation of a new format and assigned the foreign ministers to be in charge of its operation.

Moscow and Tokyo have negotiated for decades to develop a peace treaty on World War II results. The main obstacle is the sovereignty of the southern part of the Kuril Islands: after the end of the war the whole archipelago was included in the Soviet Union, but Tokyo is disputing the sovereignty of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of uninhabited islands which Japan calls Habomai.