Russian President Vladimir Putin's seemingly offhand suggestion to conclude a Japan-Russia peace treaty without any preconditions by the end of this year seems to have met overwhelming opposition or, at best, skepticism in Japan. I, however, feel his suggestion is worth serious consideration. This, of course, is on the assumption that the Habomai islets and Shikotan Island would be returned to Japan upon the conclusion of a peace treaty.

The following are my five reasons for taking his suggestion seriously.

First, in all candor and braving criticism, I venture to say that this territorial issue has in fact become a matter of "face" for Japan, which is anxious not to lose the legal position it has maintained to the present. Is Putin's suggestion designed to make Japan give up its irredentism legally through the conclusion of a peace treaty?