TOKYO, February 20. /TASS/. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes that history is unlikely to judge him kindly because he has been unable to make any decisive progress in his peace treaty talks with Russia, he said on Wednesday during the budgetary committee debates in the parliament’s lower chamber.
"Politicians are constantly wondering how history will assess their efforts. I haven’t had any success in talks with Russia so far. And history is not likely to judge me kindly," he stressed.
Similarly, he reassured the committee that his stance on the peace treaty talks hasn’t changed and remains consistent. "The northern territories (as Tokyo refers to the southern Kuril Islands) are the islands where our country enjoys sovereignty," Abe purported.
Nonetheless, the premier has again refused to declare at the request of an opposition MP that the southern Kuril Islands are "illegally occupied" and are "the ancestral territories" of Japan. However, he emphasized that "many Japanese do believe so."
Dispute over Kurils
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 key sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands.
In November 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Singapore and agreed that the two countries would accelerate the pace of the peace negotiations based on the 1956 Joint Declaration. The document ended the state of war and said that the Soviet government was ready to hand Shikotan Island and a group of small islands called Habomai over to Japan on condition that Tokyo would take control of them once a peace treaty was signed.
However, after Japan and the United States had signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, the Soviet Union withdrew its obligation to hand over the islands. A Soviet government’s memorandum dated January 27, 1960, said that those islands would only be handed over to Japan if all foreign troops were pulled out of the country.
Russia has stated on numerous occasions that the document does not set out handover conditions and thus requires further clarification.