MOSCOW – On a local radio program Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed the need for Japan to accept the outcome of World War II in order to advance Tokyo-Moscow peace treaty talks.
He said accepting the legality of Russia’s effective control of the four disputed islands off Hokkaido as a consequence of the war would be an indispensable first step for Japan to take.
Tokyo and Moscow have been unable to conclude a peace treaty to formally end their hostilities in the war due to the territorial row. The islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia, were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of the war.
Lavrov also commented on an apology made by Foreign Minister Taro Kono for not answering any questions about the territorial row with Russia at a news conference last week, bluntly repeating only one phrase: “Next question, please.”
Lavrov explained that Kono said Japan’s position has not changed, but saying so would provoke Russia.
The Russian foreign minister then said Moscow’s position will stay the same if Tokyo’s position remains unchanged. He said Japan should first shift its stance and accept the outcome of the war.
Elsewhere in the radio program, Lavrov reiterated his concern over the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system in Japan.