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Japan sticks to its position on Kurils in light of constitutional amendment in Russia

The amendment to the Russian constitution envisages a ban on ceding Russia’s territories

TOKYO, July 2. /TASS/. Japan’s government refrains from commenting on the voting on constitutional amendments in Russia but stresses that its position on the issue of South Kuril Islands and the peace treaty with Russia remains the same, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a regular press conference on Thursday.

"We are keeping a close eye on what is going on in Russia’s domestic and foreign policy but as a government we don’t comment it (constitutional amendments - TASS). Our position remains unchanged. We stand for continuing active talks to resolve the territorial dispute with the subsequent signing of a peae treaty," he told journalists when asked to comment on Russia’s voting.

Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, all Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhibited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.

In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now.

The Russian foreign ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called to question.

The amendment to the Russian constitution envisages a ban on ceding Russia’s territories.

The nationwide voting on amendments to the Russian constitution was held from June 25 through July 1, the official voting day. The voting period was extended to reduce coronavirus infection risks. The amendments will come into force if supported by more than a half of those taking part. There is no minimum voter turnout.

According to the latest update from the Central Election Commission after counting 99.9% of ballots, the constitutional amendments won support of 77.93% of voters.