Abe beats drum for talks on isle row, peace pact with Russia

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he was eager to resolve Japan’s long-standing isle dispute with Russia so that a peace treaty can finally be signed to put an end to World War II.

“By signing a peace treaty, we would be able to unlock the untapped potential of the Japan-Russia relationship. We would like to accelerate talks to get the Northern Territories back and sign a peace treaty,” he said on an NHK program, referring to four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido.

Concerning his plan to visit Russia on Feb. 7 to attend the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympics, Abe said he hopes to “increase the opportunity to have as many summit talks as possible” with Russian President Vladimir Putin this year “and settle problems in a relationship of trust with him.”

Abe met with Putin four times last year.

The four islands off Hokkaido — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group — were seized by the Soviet Union in the closing days of World War II after Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945. The ownership spat over the islands has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty, meaning they are still technically at war.

  • Yoshiko

    Japan need to accelerate negotiations with Russia because other Asian giants (S. Korea and China) already a step ahead of Japan in terms of integration with Russia. For example the South Korea already starting this 2014th year have the “Visa free” (without visas on border crossing) regime between Russia totally, also the China very actively working to abandon the visas with Russia, but russians fear the possible huge invasion from the chinese side, so the talks and treaties now are only discussing for comforting the visa regime to holders of only “duty government” passports of China.
    Japan and Russia today have only the little slight piece of cross-border comfort, with last year’s (if i’m not mistaken) treaty which simplifies the visa regime to businessman, students and cultural programs, but that’s nothing comparing with the integration progress of S. Korea with Russia. South Korea also very actively integrating into russian economy starting the car industry (many many korean made trucks on russian streets) and home electronics (Samsung, LG and etc.)… ending with the washing machine powder in most russian supermarkets (consumer products made in S.Korea).
    Japan get on russian store shelves with some consumer products from Lion corporation, usual electronics giants Sony and Panasonic, Toyota, Hitachi started to be more active… The most interesting was last year when the heavy industries from Japan started to provide products in Russia – like the winning (if i’m not mistaken) on the auction for providing the new rails to metro, because local russian metallurgical plant was closed for upgrade and there was first time when Russia searching for foreign rail manufacturers.