TOKYO, July 14. /TASS/. Moscow has refused to discuss the potential handover of two of four southern Kuril Islands to Japan as part of the talks on signing a peace treaty, Kyodo News said on Sunday.
The news agency reported, citing a source close to the negotiation process, that one of the reasons for Moscow’s refusal to even discuss such an opportunity was Russia’s concerns related to the Japanese-US military alliance. The refusal also stemmed from fears that a potential compromise on the territorial issue with Japan could have an adverse effect on the level of support for the Russian government by the population, Kyodo News noted.
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 status of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the status 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 any doubt. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ending the state of war, but no peace treaty has been signed to date.
During the Russian-Japanese summit held in Osaka, Japan, in late June, the parties agreed to push ahead with efforts to hammer out an agreement.