National / Politics

Russia expects talks with Japan on interpretation of joint declaration on islands off Hokkaido, ambassador says


Territorial talks under a newly agreed framework between Tokyo and Moscow will include discussions on how to interpret the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, Russian Ambassador to Japan Mikhail Galuzin said Monday.

The remark echoed an earlier statement by President Vladimir Putin that the declaration says nothing about the grounds on which two of the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido would be handed over to Japan, or which side would have sovereignty over the two islands after the handover.

Putin expressed the view at a news conference in Singapore on Nov. 15 — the day after he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate negotiations on a World War II peace treaty based on the 1956 declaration, which stipulates the return of the two islands after the conclusion of the treaty.

The new negotiation framework was decided at a meeting of the two leaders on Saturday, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

At a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, Galuzin said various discussions should be held under the new framework.

He added that the new talks are also expected to cover how Japan will recognize the results of the war and what implications the Japan-U.S. security alliance will have for the Japan-Russia territorial issue.

Japan asserts that the four islands, which it calls the Northern Territories, were illegally seized by Soviet troops in 1945, while Russia insists that it won the islands as a result of the war.

Galuzin said the new negotiation framework is based on a shared recognition of the need to create a new environment between the two countries while advancing bilateral relations in a wide range of fields.

The ambassador added that it is too early to predict what solutions, if any, the two countries may find under the new framework.