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Japanese foreign minister set to have peace treaty signed within terms of Putin, Abe

"I would want to see the time, when Japanese and Russia people would say joyfully: ‘We finally have a peace treaty. It is so good!’" Taro Kono said

MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono says he is set to have a peace treaty with Russia signed while the countries are led by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In an interview with TASS, which he gave at the end of the visit to Moscow, the minister said the relations with Russia have special meaning for him, as 61 years earlier his grandfather Ichiro Kono as a member of the delegation, led by Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama, visited the Soviet Union to sign the Joint Japanese-Russian Declaration, which put an end to the state of war and which restored the diplomatic relations between the countries. The grandfather used to tell him how during the meeting with the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev, the latter "was swinging a paper knife in front of his eyes," and then gave that knife to him. "My grandfather brought it to Japan, and this paper knife remains in our family," the foreign minister said.

"The palace in Moscow, which now is the property of the Russian Foreign Ministry and where we had talks with Mister [Foreign Minister of Russia Sergei] Lavrov, is the very building, where my grandfather used to stay 61 years ago," the Japanese minister continued. "And the intergovernmental commission on development of the trade and economic relations, which I chaired together with Mister [First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor] Shuvalov is exactly the commission, which my father established back in 1994 at the time he was the foreign minister."

"Now, I am taking the position of the foreign minister, which should support Mister Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in signing of a peace treaty," Taro Kono said. "And I am set to fulfil this task, while Mister Putin and Mister Abe are taking their positions. For this I am ready to spend much time, and, if that helps, to come to Russia many times."

"I would want to see the time, when Japanese and Russia people would say joyfully: ‘We finally have a peace treaty. It is so good!’" the Japanese foreign minister said.

Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the middle of last century. The main obstacle to this is the issue of the ownership of the Southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan has been challenging ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands. Moscow has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands could not be questioned.