Putin, Abe make no breakthrough in peace treaty talks: researcher

Putin, Abe make no breakthrough in peace treaty talks: researcher

Putin, Abe make no breakthrough in peace treaty talks: researcher

Written by Reuters

23 Jan, 2019 | 11:26 am

Reuters – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday failed to reach a major consensus on decades-old territorial disputes that have mired peace treaty talks.

At a news briefing following their 25th meeting in Moscow, Putin said Russia and Japan have “meticulous work ahead” in creating conditions for reaching a peace treaty. Abe said at the briefing that he and Putin discussed the peace treaty issue “without hiding anything from each other.” Abe said the two leaders agreed to continue joint work to look for a mutually acceptable solution.

Russia and Japan have not signed a post-World War II peace treaty due to their rivaling claims over four Pacific islands, which are known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

The Soviet army took the four islands in the final days of World War II. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, they were incorporated into Russia.

According to a joint declaration signed in 1956, the then Soviet Union agreed to return two of the islands provided a bilateral peace treaty is signed, while Japan refused to sign such an agreement, insisting on the return of all four islands. However, Moscow has recently toughened its stance, demanding that the peace treaty talks be based on Japan’s full recognition of the aftermath of World War II, including Russian sovereignty over all the disputed islands.

Victor Kuzminkov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes the failure to reach a consensus on the islands row and sign a postwar peace treaty is as expected. The researcher said the plan to jointly develop the relevant islands proposed by Japan two years ago also got nowhere.

“Japan demanded its businessmen could head to these islands without visa, without permission, like going back home. But Russia cannot agree on it because it damages Russia’s territorial sovereignty over the islands, that’s to say the sovereignty of the islands becomes an issue,” Kuzminkov said.

For Russia’s proposal to jointly develop the disputed islands as part of building an advanced special economic zone in the Far East, the Japanese side shrugged its shoulder. Kuzminkov said the root of the issue is the territorial claim over the four islands by both sides.

“If the two sides cannot reach consensus on the major issues including the territorial dispute, I don’t think this visit can make any substantial outcomes,” said Victor Kuzminkov. Kuzminkov said Putin’s June visit to Japan will make no progress if the territorial dispute cannot be solved.

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