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Japan and Russia should be less sentimental in resolving their differences over a territorial row and concluding a World War II peace treaty, French President Jacques Chirac said April 29.

“I am not in a position to interfere with the bilateral relationship between Japan and Russia, but the two countries may find a solution if they become less sentimental on their differences,” he told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club.

Tokyo and Russia have not yet signed a peace treaty due to the territorial dispute over Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan and the Habomai group of islets, which were seized from Japan by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

Hashimoto and Yeltsin made a breakthrough in their relations in Krasnoyarsk, eastern Siberia, last November by agreeing to boost efforts to conclude a bilateral peace treaty by the end of 2000. Relations between Russia and Japan have been strained because of several misunderstandings, and it has not been easy for each side to change their stances as they have become sentimental, Chirac said. Under such circumstances, the peace treaty may not be concluded immediately although both Hashimoto and Yeltsin believe in democracy and peace, he said.

Chirac, meanwhile, denied that he made a comment on Yeltsin’s liver problem at his meeting Tuesday with former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. He also reaffirmed his confidence in the recovery of the Japanese economy, saying it is fundamentally strong. Such strong fundamentals as a high savings rate and technological innovation remain unchanged, Chirac said.

Chirac said economic stimulus measures by the Japanese government will lead to economic growth and help Japanese firms to continue investing overseas, such as Toyota Motor Corp.’s decision to build a plant in France. He said French companies are increasing their presence in Japan despite the economic slump in the country and that France will seek to increase investment and trade with Japan.

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