Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Putin proposes peace treaty conclusion with Japan by year-end

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin
Ellis Copeland | 14 September, 2018, 18:35

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Fourth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

For the past several years Putin and Abe have been discussing ways to solve the longstanding dispute, including making the four most southern of the Kuril Islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, a joint economic zone.

The Eastern Economic Forum is an global forum held each year since 2015 to encourage foreign investment in the Russian Far East. But Abe, who was sitting on the same stage, did not provide any response during the forum.

He has reportedly met Putin 22 times, with whom he has struck up a relationship as he seeks to resolve long-term territorial and historical disputes with Russian Federation.

President Vladimir Putin suggested Wednesday that Russian Federation and Japan sign a peace treaty this year, ending World War II hostilities "without any preconditions" as a territorial dispute has led to decades of deadlock.

It has kept the two countries from signing a peace accord that would formally end their wartime hostilities.

"But we are ready to look for resolutions that would work for both Russian Federation and Japan, and which would be accepted by the people in both countries", he said, adding that he was sure relations would have "new impetus" following the talks.

Russian Federation and Japan did not sign a formal peace treaty after the end of WWII in 1945, and the absence of an agreement has strained relations ever since.

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Later in the same session, Putin said of his offer: "I was not joking".

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a treaty with Russian Federation would be signed "after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands", referring to the disputed territory.

Establishing its sovereignty over the islands is the crucial issue for Japan, so it would be unlikely to sign a deal without first receiving some assurances from the Kremlin over the fate of the islands.

He suggested Abe would never accept a deal that would be political suicide.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared open to a treaty, saying it was "not normal" that one still hasn't been signed after seven decades.

"This stance hasn't changed", he added.

"We have been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years".

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that the Russian leader did not make any such proposal during the bilateral meeting with Abe.

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