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Japan believes its interpretation of a 1956 joint declaration with the then Soviet Union that stipulates two of the four disputed islands off Hokkaido be returned to Japan after a peace treaty is signed is the same as Russia’s, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono said Friday.

At a regular news conference after the day’s Cabinet meeting, Kono referred to press reports stating that Russia had indicated it cannot accept the Japanese interpretation of the declaration. Japan’s interpretation is that the return of the two other islands — Kunashiri and Etorofu — should continue to be discussed after Shikotan and the Habomai islets are returned first.

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