A peace treaty between Japan and Russia is necessary from the point of view of regional stability and will open up a new page in the relations between the two countries, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman.
“I have said it more than once and I would like to repeat it once again: we need to sign the peace treaty to exploit our potential of bilateral relations to the full. It will bring our relations to an utterly new level and will bring about utterly new benefits to our peoples. It is necessary for our region, for its stability and for the interests of settling various problems of the international community. Japan and Russia must cooperate and pool efforts to resolve such problems,” he said.
“Both Russia and Japan are very important, respectable states,” he said, adding that it is abnormal that such states have no peace treaty between them. The Japanese prime minister stressed that relations between his country and Russia have a very promising potential. “We want to fulfil this potential to the full. Russia’s role in our region is very great and the implementation of the potential of the Japanese-Russian relations will do good not only to our two nations but to the region and the entire world,” he added.
The Japanese prime minister noted he hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a Group of Twenty summit in Argentina later in November. He also said he plans to visit Russia early next year to have talks with President Putin. Apart from that, in his words, he will expect Putin to come to Japan to attend a Group of Twenty summit in June. “I am determined to bring to fruition, together with the [Russian] president, the task we have inherited from the end of WWII – to sign the peace treaty,” Abe stressed.
After Putin’s meeting with Abe in Singapore, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the two leaders had agreed to intensify the peace treaty talks on the basis on the 1956 declaration.
Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II. 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 Soviet Union committed to paper in the declaration its readiness to hand over Shikotan, Habomai and a number of uninhibited small islands to Japan as a gesture of good will after the peace treaty is ultimately signed.
However following Japan’s signing a security treaty with the United States in 1960, the former Soviet Union revoked its liabilities concerning the transference of islands. The Soviet government said back then that the islands would be handed over to Japan only when all foreign forces were withdrawn from its territory.