Japan and Russia appear to have made little headway to resolve a 60-year-old territorial dispute, but their foreign ministers say they will continue to hold talks to resolve outstanding issues which have prevented the two countries from formally signing a peace treaty ending World War II.
Sergey Lavrov told his visiting counterpart Fumio Kishida in Moscow on Monday that Russia will continue to view the north Pacific Kuril Islands it currently controls (in an area known as the Sakhalin region) as part of sovereign Russia.
The islands, known in Japan as Kunashiri, Etorofu and Shikotan – and the Habomai islets – lie off Hokkaido, and were seized by Russian forces in the closing days of World War II in August 1945.
For his part, Kishida reiterated Tokyo’s protest at Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Etorofu Island in late August. Japan has filed formal protests with the Russian Foreign Ministry every time an official from Moscow visited the islands.
Kishida said that the two countries should “create a mutually acceptable solution to the territorial issue”.
The two foreign ministers agreed to continue talks which are expected to lead to a signing of a peace treaty in October.
“On our agenda is reaching the peace deal,” Lavrov said. “Moving forward on this issue is possible only after we see clearly Japan’s recognition of historical realities.”
He indicated that the status of the islands would not be negotiable or on the agenda of future talks.
Kishida and Lavrov also discussed a possible Japanese-Russian summit in Tokyo. Russia has accepted a Japanese invitation for President Vladimir Putin to visit Tokyo, but a date has not yet been set.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies