Japan and Russia hold talks over disputed islands

Officials from both countries met in Russia's capital to sign a treaty that aims to fully end hostilities over a territorial dispute that has persisted since World War II.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

An aerial view shows Kunashiri Island, one of four disputed islands known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan, is seen in this photo taken 2005.

Japan and Russia will hold a third round of talks on a bilateral peace treaty in Moscow on Friday to formally end wartime hostilities between the two countries.

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that the talks were expected to be “prolific.”

The two nations have been in talks for decades to fully mend ties due to a territorial dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that were occupied by the Soviet Union towards the end of World War II.

The dispute over the islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as part of the Kuril Islands, has prevented the two countries from reaching a final solution.

Earlier this month Russian authorities detained a Japanese man on the disputed island.

At a meeting in Sochi in May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to take a new approach and rekindle talks aimed at resolving the dispute.

The previous round of the negotiations took place in Tokyo on June 22 and the next one is expected to take place in early September in the Russian city of Vladivostok.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov last week said that Putin and Abe confirmed their political willingness for the settlement however, a recent Russian public opinion poll has shown that 78 percent of the respondents oppose returning the disputed islands to Japan.

In October, the two countries will reach the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of the Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which called for the return of two of the four disputed islands after the conclusion of a bilateral peace treaty.



TRTWorld and agencies