Speed six-party talks, departing Russian envoy says

by Reiji Yoshida

weapons

,” Losyukov said.

The major outstanding issue between Tokyo and Moscow remains the territorial dispute over the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, a problem that showed little sign of being resolved during Losyukov’s stint.

Losyukov blamed rigid public opinion both in Japan and Russia that leaves little room for compromise.

“Japanese public opinion has forced (the government) to maintain an extreme position,” said Losyukov, urging the mass media to suggest that people change their stance.

The Soviet Union seized the four islands from Japan in the closing days of World War II, expelling 17,000 Japanese residents. The dispute has prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty formally ending wartime hostilities.