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LDP exec: Russia’s attitude on northern territories appears to have changed

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — A Japan-Russia summit slated for Dec. 15 could be “the last chance” for Tokyo to resolve its longstanding territorial issue with Moscow over four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands, a ruling party executive said Sunday.


If Japan fails to make progress on the territorial issue at the meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, reaching a solution “could be impossible forever,” Hakubun Shimomura, executive acting secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said in a television program.


The December meeting is set to take place in the city of Nagato, Yamaguchi Prefecture, which includes Abe’s constituency.


On an Abe-Putin meeting held in Lima on Nov. 19 on the fringe of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit, Shimomura said that Russia’s attitude appeared to have changed compared with when the two leaders met in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok in September. This may have partly reflected Donald Trump’s victory in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election, Shimomura noted.


In talks with reporters later on Sunday, Shimomura said, “We cannot be optimistic” about the upcoming meeting between Abe and Putin.


The four islands in question, located off Hokkaido, were seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The issue has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

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