Japan and Russia to accelerate talks of peace but challenges may arise

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Tuesday to accelerate talks on a postwar peace treaty that has not been concluded due to a territorial dispute, while suggesting the process will not be easy.


The summit in Moscow was held after the two agreed in November to step up their search for a solution on the basis of a 1956 joint declaration, which calls for the The two leaders also vowed to enhance economic ties, with Putin proposing a 50 percent rise in the value of annual trade with Japan to around $30 billion (3.3 trillion yen) and increased efforts to realize joint economic activities on the four islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.


photo credit to: https://www.japantimes.co.jp


Abe is keen to resolve the dispute over the islands that have remained under Russian control since the end of World War II and to make a peace deal the main pillar of his political legacy. The Japanese leader is believed to be pursuing a June timeline to reach a broad agreement with Putin, who is expected to visit Japan that month for the Group of 20 summit.


The 1956 declaration, which ended the state of war between the nations and restored diplomatic ties, stipulated the handover by the Soviet Union to Japan of Shikotan Island and the Habomai islet group after a peace treaty is signed.


But the two countries differ over what a “handover” of the two islands would mean, with Tokyo arguing that it should entail Japan assuming sovereignty and Moscow asserting nothing relating to sovereignty is mentioned in the document.


Japan maintains that all of the islands are characteristic and fundamental territories of the country that were & “illegally occupied” by the Soviet Union following Tokyo’s surrender in World War II in 1945. However, Moscow insists it legally has the right to own and settle on the island after they won it from Japan in WWII.


Reference: Abe, Putin vow to speed up peace treaty talks, hint at challenges


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