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74% of Russians oppose handing disputed islands to Japan

JIJI

Over 70 percent of Russians oppose handing control of the four Moscow-held islands claimed by Japan over to Tokyo, a survey by a Russian nongovernmental research organization has shown.

The survey, released Friday by the Levada Analytical Center, showed that 74 percent of the respondents were against the idea.

The proportion fell slightly from 78 percent in a similar survey conducted by the center in May 2016.

According to the survey, a record 17 percent support the handover, up from 7 percent in the 2016 poll.

The latest survey, taken between Nov. 22 and Wednesday, covered 1,600 people.

The islands in question are the Habomai group of islets, Shikotan, Etorofu and Kunashiri, which were seized from Japan by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II.

The territorial dispute has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end wartime hostilities.

In November, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to accelerate peace treaty talks between the two countries based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration. The declaration stipulates that the Habomais and Shikotan will be handed over to Japan after the peace treaty is concluded.