TOKYO, October 20. /TASS/. Japan is sending its second state delegation to Russia’s Southern Kuril Islands on October 26-31 as part of the previously reached agreements between the two countries, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Friday.
"We are planning to shape up the image of the four islands jointly with Russia," the Japanese top diplomat told journalists. "We would like to strike a mutually beneficial agreement on the existing issue and reach a peace agreement basing on it."
Kono said that one of his counsellors would be in charge of the delegation, which would arrive at the Kunashir Island on October 26 and then set off for Iturup and Shikotan Islands before coming back to Kunashir.
A big business mission from Japan headed by a special advisor to Prime Minister Eiichi Hasegawa visited the Kuril Islands in June. The delegation included officials from the Japanese government staff, Foreign Ministry, Economics Ministry, Agriculture Ministry, the administration of the Northern Hokkaido Prefecture, and businessmen. In four days, the delegation visited the islands of Kunashir, Iturup and Shikotan where it examined the conditions of infrastructure and the opportunities for joint Russian-Japanese projects.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put forward an eight-point cooperation plan to develop the relations with Russia during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 6, 2016. The plan includes efforts to foster relations between Japan and Russia in the energy sector, small and medium-sized businesses, the promotion of industrialization of the Far East, expansion of the export base, as well as the proposal to strengthen cooperation in the cutting-edge technologies, including nuclear energy, and the sphere of humanitarian exchanges. Later 30 priority projects for cooperation were defined.
Following the Russian President’s visit to Japan on December 15-16, 2016 and his meetings with Japanese PM a joint statement was adopted, which said that the beginning of consultations on joint economic activities on the South Kuril Islands would be an important step towards signing a peace treaty by the two neighbors.
Russia and Japan have been holding consultations since the mid-20th century 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 has laid claims to the four southern islands.