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What’s holding back Japan’s peace treaty with Russia?

19 11 0

DECADES have passed since the end of World War II (WWII), yet a peace treaty between Japan and Russia is still to be established.

There’s a major barrier that makes it impossible for them to reach this milestone in their relationship: the Northern Territories, or Kuril Islands, dispute.

Japan has repeatedly tried to recover the Northern Territories – comprising Etrof Island, Kunashiri Island, Shikotan Island, and the Habomai Islands – that have effectively been controlled by Russia since WWII. A huge difference in perspectives on the matter, however, makes negotiations extremely difficult.

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In September 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to finalise a peace treaty within the year – but without any prerequisites.

Since then, though negotiations between Japan and Russia have quickly progressed, a peace treaty has remained difficult due to Japan’s refusal to settle on a treaty with “no prerequisites”, especially with impending territorial disputes.

The following month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Putin met in Singapore and promised to settle the matter and conclude a peace treaty before their terms in office ended – giving them three years.

Abe has even expressed his desire to finalise a treaty at the G20 Summit scheduled in Osaka, June 2019.

The 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration is regarded as the basis of negotiations. It states that the Habomai and Shikotan Islands will be handed over to Japan with the conclusion of a peace treaty between Japan and the Soviet Union.


© Asian Correspondent