Putin says islands dispute can be resolved, lays blame on Japan for soured ties


In the quest to address a a decades-old territorial dispute, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that it is necessary to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Russian leader said in a meeting with reporters in St. Petersburg that he believes it is possible to resolve the issue, though he did not elaborate.

It was Putin’s first comment on the territorial row since Abe vowed earlier this week to take the reins in addressing the dispute “as soon as possible.”

Abe also said he would work to move the issue forward during an envisaged visit to Japan by Putin this year, which the two leaders have already agreed on.

The disputed islands — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group — were seized by the Soviet Union following Japan’s surrender in World War II on Aug. 15, 1945. The territorial row remains a serious issue that has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty.

Putin also said Japan bears responsibility for the two nations’ chilly ties, alleging that Tokyo’s sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine have kept the two countries from promoting bilateral relations and signing a peace treaty.

The president suggested a new proposal is needed from Japan, saying Russia can do little to improve strained relations on its own.

Japan and other Group of Seven countries agreed at a summit this month that the duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia’s complete implementation of a cease-fire agreement in February. There has been a recent upsurge in violence between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces in eastern Ukraine.

Economic ties with Japan will play a large part in promoting the development of natural resources, Putin said, with the Russian government backing an expansion of liquefied natural gas projects in waters off the island of Sakhalin that major Japanese companies are involved in, he added.

  • Wolf Angel

    I beleive Japan’s proposal should be, get off our islands. The soviets claimed them after the cessation of hostilities. So their claim is invalid

    • 151E

      Well, that has been Japan’s position so far to no avail. From a realpolitik perspective, Japan needs to bring more than indignation to the negations.

    • Vitor Leur

      Sure, right after the US returns Alaska to Russia

      • 151E

        Alaska was purchased by the US in 1867. The two are not analogous.

      • Vitor Leur

        The same thing, symbolical payment does not make it better than no payment at all

      • Actina Ontorres

        you are stupid

      • walkergw

        You Russians are terrible at history. I guess it’s due to your Soviet past where you just send anyone who remembers or disagrees with your rewriting of it to the gulags. You know, this was also something Hitler was very keen on. Surprising you guys didn’t get along.

      • Vitor Leur

        Listen, you lost the war so shut up, unless you want to start another one

      • walkergw

        Seems to me you are the one trying to start something. I guess I should make allowances for your past and all, and I likely would if you could learn from it. But that is impossible when you intentionally change it to boost your self confidence. But just know this, confidence comes from being earned, faking it just leads to cockiness.

  • tfortea

    japan cant make a decision on its own without talking to Washington.. i.e., japan will be a puppet always..

  • lushnya

    The Japan are really loosing time here…when they can’t decide to discuss this – chinese already offering a deal to rent (it’s almost purchase) for 49 years the gigantic piece of mainland area in Zabaikalsky region for agriculture purposes.
    China wants to get the area near the most treasurable thing on planet Earth, which located in Russia – almost near the purest ancient lake “Baikal” (it’s self cleaning and only fresh water (no salt). China many years trying many attempts to get to this precious lake, they offered many projects and any money, but only now they have the real possibility to achieve something.
    Anyway the local people are really mad about this chinese deal, because Putin’s administration almost agree on this VERY CHEAP offer from China – price in russian rubles, which lost twice it’s price to chinese yuan on currency market. Of course many worried about “famous” chinese destructive agriculture technologies on the land which can ruin the ecology of region and in the end make the danger to the rarest lake and reservoir of fresh water on planet…
    The only thing which preventing chinese deal now – is the absence of working visas in Russia (only tourist), China lobbying them, so now every working chinese in Russia is illegal and can get to prison. That’s the last thing stopping massive chinese expansion in almost “empty” russian lands.