TOKYO, January 25 – RIA Novosti. The resumption of humanitarian exchanges with Russia and the possibility of visiting the graves of ancestors by former residents of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai is the main priority in relations with Moscow, said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“We hope for the soonest creation of conditions for the resumption of humanitarian exchanges on the four islands of the Northern Territories (as Japan calls the Russian southern islands of the Kuril chain – Ed.),” he stressed.
Also, Kishida, answering a question from the leader of the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, Kenta Izumi, about the policy of the Japanese government, stressed that Tokyo plans to resume dialogue with Russia on fisheries.
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The Russian Foreign Ministry said last spring that Moscow, in response to Tokyo’s unfriendly steps, was refusing to negotiate a peace treaty, halting visa-free travel for the Japanese to the southern Kuril Islands, and withdrawing from dialogue on establishing joint economic activities in the southern Kuriles.
The visa-free regime began in 1992 on the basis of an intergovernmental agreement to improve mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries and to resolve the issue of concluding a peace treaty. The trips took place on a national passport with a special insert, without visas.
Japan claims the islands of Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup and Habomai, referring to the bilateral Treatise on Trade and Frontiers of 1855. Tokyo set the return of the islands as a condition for concluding a peace treaty with Moscow. However, after the end of World War II, the document was never signed.
In 1956, the USSR and Japan signed a joint declaration. In it, Moscow agreed to consider the possibility of transferring the two islands in the event of a peace treaty. The Soviet Union hoped to put an end to this, while the Japanese side considered the deal only part of the solution to the problem, without renouncing claims to all the islands.
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Translation by RJ983
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