Two countries which have not formally ended World War II are planning to meet together to finally push for a peace treaty.
Reuters reports Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Friday that he intends to score a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet next month.
“Abe, who has signaled he is keen to clinch a deal, will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in their 25th summit for discussions aimed at ending the disagreement over a group of windswept islands seized by Soviet troops in the final days of the war,” Reuters reports.
“I’ll visit Russia later this month and intend to push forward with discussions towards a peace treaty,” Abe reportedly said.
The Japanese Prime Minister said that “absolutely no progress” had been made to score an end to the war for more than 70 years.
Despite the optimism and that the two countries were cooperating “as never before,” Abe acknowledged there was no guarantee an agreement would be reached.
Putin caught Abe off guard in September when, on stage with the Japanese leader at a conference in Vladivostok, he suggested signing a peace treaty by year-end “without any pre-conditions”.
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Abe later rejected the proposal, repeating Japan’s stance that the question of sovereignty must be settled first.
He told reporters after the two met again in Singapore in November they had agreed to speed up negotiations based on a 1956 joint statement in which Moscow agreed to transfer the two smaller islands to Japan after a peace treaty was concluded.
Putin may be open to a deal now, expecting that better ties will act as a counter-balance to China and attract more Japanese investment and technology, some experts say.
“At a meeting with President Putin in Singapore last year, we shared our determination to sign a peace treaty by solving the ‘northern territories’ problem and draw a line under the issue, which has remained unresolved for more than 70 years since the end of the war so as not to leave it to the next generations,” Abe said on Friday, as TASS reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed at a meeting in Singapore on November 14 to intensify Russian-Japanese negotiations on signing a peace treaty based on the Joint Declaration of October 19, 1956.
The Joint Declaration ended the state of war between both nations. The two countries resumed diplomatic and consular relations, but no peace treaty has been signed so far. Under Article 9 of the declaration, the Soviet Union agreed to hand over Shikotan and Habomai as a gesture of good will once a peace treaty is ultimately signed. The declaration was ratified by the two countries’ parliaments in December 1956.