Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has promised to make every effort to finish the current negotiations with Russia and sign a peace treaty, the TV channel NHK reports.
Shinzo Abe and his wife traveled to the homeland of his ancestors, the city of Nagato in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, and visited the grave of his father, Shintaro Abe. Shintaro served as Japan’s foreign minister between 1982 and 1986, and also worked to improve relations between Moscow and Tokyo.
“I swore on my ancestors’ grave to make an effort daily and to do my duty. I swore to do everything to move forward [in the negotiations with Russia] and to put an end to this matter,” Abe told reporters.
He promised that this year there will be a “turning point” in the history of the territorial disputes between the countries.
Previously, Abe said that the matter of who owns the Kurils cannot be resolved without the consent of its inhabitants. Japan claims the southern Kurils, but the Japanese Prime Minister stressed that Tokyo’s claims did not mean that the islands’ Russian inhabitants would be sent away.
Abe met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in November. The two leaders agreed to expedite the peace treaty negotiations on the basis of the Soviet-Japanese declaration of 1956.
In the document, Tokyo and Moscow expressed their willingness to sign a peace treaty, after which the USSR agreed to give Japan the islands of Habomai and Shikotan. The declaration was ratified, but Tokyo later backed out, demanding the return of four of the islands.
Moscow says that the islands became part of the USSR at the end of World War II, and that Russia’s sovereignty over them is beyond doubt.