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During the 1955-56 negotiations on restoring Russo-Japanese relations, the Soviet Union used Japanese prisoners of war as “political hostages,” according to Japanese diplomatic documents declassified Tuesday.

Diplomatic experts say it is unusual for Japanese documents that clearly state the Soviet Union used POWs as leverage to be made public, and there is speculation that Tokyo released the documents for political reasons of its own. The release came the same day that the Japanese government abandoned hopes of concluding a decades-old territorial dispute with Russia by the end of the year.

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