Tokyo: “The issue of ownership of four disputed islands, known as the Southern Kuril Islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai will be at the centre of the Tokyo-Moscow negotiations on the peace accord,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday.
The prime minister further at a hearing in the upper house of Japan’s parliament said, “The sovereignty of our country extends to the Northern Territories (Southern Kuril Islands). The government has not changed its stance on this matter. The subject of negotiations on the conclusion of the peace treaty with Russia is the issue of ownership of the four islands. This is Japan’s consistent position.”
The issue can no longer be delayed, and Japan will continue with its efforts to resolve it based on previous agreements, including December 2018 deal signed by the countries in Singapore, said Kishida.
In 2018, Japan and Russia agreed to speed up negotiations on the peace treaty on the basis of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956, in which Moscow agreed to consider the possibility of transferring the Habomai and Shikotan islands under a peace treaty.
On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed disagreement with Kishida’s earlier statements about Japan’s ownership of the disputed islands by saying that the islands belong to Russia.
Tokyo lays claims to the four disputed islands in Russia’s Kuril Island chain, citing the 1855 bilateral treaty on trade and borders, while Russia maintains that its sovereignty over the islands is undisputed as they became the part of the Soviet Union after World War II.