A new round of Russian-Japanese peace treaty negotiations has come to nothing. Since the end of World War II, a peace treaty between Japan and Russia, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, has still not been signed. A declaration that the state of war between the counties has ended was signed in 1956.
Until now, Japan has demanded that Russia return the southern islands of the Kuril chain – Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai. In negotiations on 14 July, Russia refused to even discuss handing over Shikotan and the Habomai archipelago, Kyodo reports, citing a source familiar with the situation.
Russia, which is interested in expanding its military presence in the Kurils, has expressed concern regarding Japan’s cooperation with the US.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova told RBC in a comment that the talks had exclusively concerned the signing of a peace treaty and that there had not been any “specialized contact” between the two countries.
On 12 September 2018, Russian president Vladimir Putin suggested to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that they sign an unconditional peace treaty by the end of the year, and deal with the “contentious issues” at a later stage. Japan refused to sign any such unconditional treaty.
Abe will consider the possibility of signing a peace treaty if Russia gives Japan two of the four disputed islands – Habomai and Shikotan.
Russia is continuing to make it very clear to Japan that it does not intend to peacefully resolve the Kuril islands dispute. Instead, Russia’s leaders intend to expand Russia’s military presence on the islands for defensive purposes.