Russia and Japan look set to formally end their state of conflict which stretches back more than 70 years to the end of World War II. The two nations have technically never signed a peace treaty following the war due to territorial disputes.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday in Vladivostok and said both nations were working hard to find a solution.
“Now that more than 70 years have elapsed after World War II, the issue of a peace treaty between our countries is still unsettled. We with President Putin are sparing no effort to resolve this problem,” Abe said.
The territorial dispute relates to the Kuril Islands, a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately 1,300 kilometers northeast from Hokkaido in Japan to Kamchatka in Russia.
The islands were annexed by the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Kuril Islands landing operation at the end of World War II. The two southernmost large islands, as well as the Shikotan and the Habomai islets, are claimed by Japan where they are referred to as Northern Territories.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed between the Allies and Japan in 1951, states that Japan must give up “all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands”, but also does not recognise the Soviet Union’s sovereignty over them.
As reported by Russia Reports in July, tensions flared up once again after Russia deployed its newest missile defense systems to the islands with plans to build a naval base there.
All islands in the Kuril archipelago are currently under the jurisdiction of Russia. It remains to be seen what agreement will be made over the islands without compromising each country’s legal position on sovereignty or creating problems around economic activity.
“I will continue to make utmost efforts with President Putin to bring an end to the issue,” Abe said on Monday.
According to Russian state media agency RT, Japanese companies were interested in investing in the islands with a delegation of Japan-based firms to visit in early October.
Abe said Moscow and Tokyo were interested in various projects on the Kuril Islands, including fisheries, seafood, tourism, wind and light electricity, garbage processing.