Russia’s decision to suspend negotiations on a formal peace treaty to end World War II is an opportunity for Japan.

That is because the move obliges the Japanese government to reassess its policy and strategy, to recognize the bitter truth about Russian thinking and dispense with the unreasonable expectations that have guided decision making in Tokyo.

Since the end of World War II, every Japanese government has sought to sign a peace treaty with its counterpart in Moscow and secure the return of the islands of Kunashiri, Shikotan, Etorofu and the Habomai islets — collectively known as the Northern Territories — which were seized by Soviet forces in the closing days of that conflict.