In an interview on the TV channel Asahi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that if Russia hands over some of the Kuril islands, Japan will definitely take into account the opinion of the local residents.
According to Abe, the negotiations with Russia will not initially mean a forced relocation of Russians from the islands.
“It must happen in such a way that the Russians living there agree to the transition of ownership to Japan,” the Japanese prime minister explained.
He noted that at present, the Kuril islands are inhabited predominantly by Russians.
“Unfortunately, the former [Japanese] island inhabitants ended up in a situation where they could no longer live there,” Abe said.
The Japanese leader also observed that the implementation of the joint economic activity plan by Russia and Japan will enable citizens of both countries to live and work together on the islands.
On November 14 at a summit in Singapore, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to start the process of negotiating a peace treaty on the basis of the 1956 declaration.
Last year, the Japanese government protested against Moscow’s renaming of five of the Kuril islands.