BERLIN – For decades, every sign Russia and Japan had made progress in talks on disputed territories and a post-World War II peace treaty turned out to be a false alarm. This time may be different: Both Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Russian President Vladimir Putin need a deal more than their predecessors did.
Putin and Abe met in Singapore last week and agreed to speed up talks on a peace treaty their two countries negotiated after World War II but the Soviet Union refused to sign. The talks will be based on a joint declaration the Soviet Union and Japan signed in 1956 that required the Soviet Union to hand over to Japan the island of Shikotan and the Habomai islets once a peace treaty was signed. Japan has since insisted on the handover of two more islands, Etorofu (Iturup) and Kunashiri (Kunashir), and Russia has refused to cede any territory at all.
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