Japan PM pledges to resolve Russia island row
TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s prime minister said Thursday he wants to find a “mutually acceptable solution” to a decades-old territorial row with Russia and sign a long-delayed peace treaty with Moscow.
Shinzo Abe’s apparently conciliatory comments are in marked contrast to his uncompromising stance on a dispute with China over the sovereignty of a different set of disputed islands.
“There is no change in my resolve to do everything I can towards sealing a peace treaty with Russia after resolving the issue of the Northern Territories,” Abe said, referring to the Russian-administered Southern Kurils.
In December last year, Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to restart talks on signing a peace treaty formally ending the hostilities of World War II that has been stymied by the dispute.
“In the telephone talks, I told President Putin I would make efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution so as to ultimately solve the issue of the Northern Territories,” Abe told a government-backed rally of around 2,000 former islanders and their descendants in Tokyo.
Soviet forces seized the isles, which stretch out into rich fishing waters off the northern coast of Hokkaido, in the dying days of WWII and drove out Japanese residents.