Putin proposes to sign peace treaty between Russia, Japan until end of year

Putin proposes to sign peace treaty between Russia, Japan until end of year

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) to sign a peace treaty between Russia and Japan until the end of the year without any preconditions, UrduPoint reports.

The fact that Japan and Russia have never signed a permanent peace treaty after the end of World War II has long been a stumbling block in Russia-Japan relations. The main issue standing in the way of a treaty is an agreement concerning a group of four islands that both countries claim Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, collectively referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan. Japan claims the islands, referring to the bilateral Treaty on Trade and Borders of 1855. Moscow's position is that the South Kurils have become part of the Soviet Union following World War II and Russian sovereignty over them was established under international law.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the plenary session of the EEF that he and Putin would make every effort to conclude a peace treaty between the two countries. "Our new approaches are changing the shape of the Japanese-Russian cooperation. Without violating the legal position of both sides, we are implementing what can be done. We are accumulating such experience, we are moving toward what we with president [Putin] aspire - toward a peace treaty. In order to solve the problem ... we together with the president will make every effort," he said.

Following this statement by Abe, Putin said that he "has an idea" - to sign a peace treaty until the end of 2018 without any preconditions. "We have been negotiating for seventy years. Shinzo said that we should change approaches. So I have an idea - let's conclude a peace treaty - not now, but until the end of the year - without any preconditions," Putin said.

Putin later said that he was not joking about signing a peace treaty with Japan and emphasized the need to create a comfortable environment for settling Moscow's disagreements with Tokyo. "We can indicate it in the treaty that we will work on settling all the issues. I am sure that we will do it someday. We need to get rid of everything that hampers the development of our relations," Putin added.

The president continued by saying that the territorial disputes between Russia and Japan were not fundamental. However, these political and moral disagreements were a very sensitive issue for both countries, Putin added, noting the need to "consider carefully the approaches to the settlement of these issues." Abe, on his part, admitted that the absence of a peace treaty between the two countries was an abnormal situation, adding that the joint economic activity on the disputed islands is the key for reaching an agreement.

The Foreign Ministries of Russia and Japan issued some comments regarding Putin's sudden proposal.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said that Moscow was ready to instantly launch negotiations with Japan on the long-expected bilateral peace treaty, adding that the work on the achievement a treaty has never been ceased and is steadily continuing. "We are ready, but it will depend on the readiness of our Japanese friends ... We are ready to begin it without delay," Morgulov told reporters at EEF.

According to Morgulov, Putin's proposal will create an atmosphere necessary for solving complex problems in bilateral relations. The deputy minister added that the dialogue on the peace treaty would continue in the existing mode without the need to create a new format to address the problem.

In turn, Japan's Foreign Ministry refrained from commenting on Putin's statements, noting that Tokyo's position on the peace agreement with Russia has not changed. "The Japanese government is aware of the mentioned Putin's statement. We refrain fromcommenting on President Putin's public statements. But there are no any changes in the Japanese government's [commitment] to persist in negotiating the peace treaty in compliance with [the government's official position] following resolution of the issue of the attribution of the four northern islands [four South Kuril Islands: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai]," the Japanese Foreign Ministry's representative told Sputnik.