Japan should not set a time limit on the settlement of its territorial row with Russia so that the people of both countries can be fully satisfied with the final resolution, according to former Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko.

Kiriyenko, a presidential representative in Russia’s new federal district along the Volga, told Japanese reporters this week that the Japanese and Russian people “need to accept the proposal as fair,” adding that it will be difficult to conclude a peace treaty as proposed by the end of the year.

“Without settling the territorial row, there is no way a peace treaty can be concluded,” Kiriyenko, on a personal visit to Japan, said in a joint interview in Tokyo with Kyodo News and two other news organizations.

The dispute concerns the Russian-held islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan and the Habomai islets off Hokkaido that were seized from Japan by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.

Japan is seeking an early resolution of the issue based on an agreement reached during an informal summit in 1997 in Krasnoyarsk, eastern Siberia, by then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and then Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

The accord committed the two countries to make efforts to resolve their territorial dispute and conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2000. Tokyo considers the accord a bridgehead in bilateral negotiations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is scheduled to visit Japan in September to start full negotiations on the matter, reportedly plans to urge Japan to nullify the deadline and continue talks without a time frame.

Kiriyenko said Japan and Russia should continue to do their best to conclude a peace treaty, saying it is the “duty of the leaders of the two countries, and the route should not be changed.”

The countries are currently deadlocked in their negotiations.

Under the Russian proposal, settlement of the territorial dispute and concluding a peace treaty would be dealt with separately. Under Japan’s proposal, a boundary would be demarcated north of the disputed islands and Russia given temporary administrative rights over them.

Kiriyenko was appointed May 18 as Putin’s representative to one of seven federal districts the Russian president created this month to oversee the country’s 89 provinces and republics and to strengthen the central government’s control over regional politics.

Duma’s Japan link

MOSCOW (Kyodo) Irina Khakamada, a Japanese-Russian legislator, was elected Wednesday as vice chairwoman of the Duma.

Khakamada, 45, is the daughter of the late Mutsuo Hakamada, a former member of the Japanese Communist Party.

Elected to the Duma in 1993, Khakamada is regarded as one of the most powerful female politicians in Russia.

A member of the Union of Right Forces, she is a leading proponent of reform and has served as head of the state commission for promoting small business.

She is a second-generation Japanese-Russian. Her uncle, Satomi Hakamada, served as deputy chairman of the JCP. She is the step-sister of professor Shigeki Hakamada, a Russian scholar at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.