The Russian Foreign Ministry has summoned Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kozuki due to statements made by the Japanese government on the Kuril islands, the ministry reported on its official website.
The ambassador was summoned due to statements by Tokyo that Japan would “waive” its claims to compensation for the Kuril islands. His attention was also drawn to statements by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe that the islands may be given back to Japan with the consent of the Russian citizens living there.
“It was pointed out to the head of the Japanese diplomatic mission that such statements grossly distort the nature of the agreements between the Russian and Japanese leaders concerning the expediting of the negotiation process on the basis of the joint declaration of 1956,” the report states.
Four of the Kuril islands – Iturup, Shikotan, Kunashir and Habomai – have been the subject of a territorial dispute between Russia and Japan since the end of World War II, when the Soviet Union annexed these Japanese territories. In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a declaration to end military aggression, but to this day a peace treaty between the countries has not been signed.
At the end of November, after a meeting between the two countries’ leaders, the Kremlin announced that an agreement had been reached to return to the Soviet-Japanese memorandum of 1956, according to which Moscow would give Japan two of the four islands – Habomai and Shikotan – once a peace treaty had been signed.
According to reports in the Japanese media, Abe is also considering the possibility of returning to the provisions of the 1956 declaration. Previously Tokyo demanded the return of all four of the South Kurils before it would consider a peace treaty.
According to a poll carried out by the Levada Center, 74% of Russians are opposed to the idea of giving any of the islands back to Japan.