National / Politics

Moscow avoids confirming Abe's reported 'No U.S. base' pledge

JIJI

A Kremlin spokesman has declined to confirm whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised not to allow U.S. bases to be built on Japan-claimed islands under Russian control even if they are returned to Japan, according to Russia’s Tass news agency.

The Japanese media have reported that Abe made the pledge directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in 2016.

At a news conference Friday, the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refrained from disclosing details of the summit, only saying they had one-on-one discussions on the issue of concluding a bilateral peace treaty, Tass reported.

But Peskov was also quoted as saying, “I can confirm that Tokyo’s alliance obligations are important as far as peace treaty talks go.”

At their latest meeting in Singapore on Wednesday, Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate negotiations on a proposed peace treaty to end World War hostilities between their countries based on the 1956 joint declaration.

The declaration calls for the return of Shikotan and the Habomai islet group —two of the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido —after concluding a peace treaty.

Putin is strongly concerned about the possibility of Japan allowing the United States to build military bases on the two islands under the Japan-U.S. security treaty, people familiar with the matters said.