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Japanese top diplomat calls for stepping up peace treaty talks with Russia - TV

Taro Kono and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov held talks in Moscow on May 10
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono Valery Sharufulin/TASS
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono
© Valery Sharufulin/TASS

TOKYO, May 11. /TASS/. Japanese Foreign Minister has called for stepping up the peace treaty talks with Russia, the NHK TV channel reported.

"We would like to complete these talks as soon as possible given the old age of the former residents of the four northern islands [which is what Russia’s southern Kuril Islands are called in Japan - TASS]," Taro Kono said delivering a speech in the city of Sapporo on Hokkaido Island where he had arrived after a visit to Moscow.

The Japanese top diplomat emphasized the need to determine various options that would satisfy both parties because otherwise it would be impossible for the two countries’ parliaments to ratify a peace treaty. According to him, if one party gets everything and the other received nothing, it won’t accept such a document.

When speaking about his visit to Russia, the Japanese foreign minister said that there had been some tense moments during discussions.

Taro Kono and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov held talks in Moscow on May 10, focusing on the peace treaty issue. They said at a joint press conference later that differences remained between Moscow and Tokyo but the parties were ready to continue working on the issue.

The two top diplomats did not disclose the details of their talks, saying they would continue efforts to bring bilateral relations to a new level, which could help in resolving the peace treaty issue.

Peace treaty 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 joint 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.

On November 14, 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 speed up peace treaty talks based on the 1956 declaration. The two countries’ foreign ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono, oversee the negotiations conducted by their deputies, Igor Morgulov and Takeo Mori.

The Joint Declaration said that the Soviet government was ready to hand Shikotan Island and a group of small islands over to Japan, adding that Tokyo would get actual control of the islands after 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.