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Signing of Russia-Japan peace treaty not difficult: ex-envoy

Moscow, Sept. 19 (Jiji Press) — It would not be difficult for Russia and Japan to conclude a post-World War II peace treaty if the two countries have a political will, Alexander Panov, former Russian ambassador to Japan, said Wednesday.

Panov made the remark at a debate in Moscow, after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed last week that the two nations sign a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities without any preconditions by the end of this year.

Panov brushed aside the view that the Putin proposal represents empty words.

Russia long engaged in the peace treaty issue, Panov added, noting that a text of such a treaty was drafted multiple times when he was working at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Putin put forward the proposal in the presence of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at an economic forum meeting in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok on Sept. 12.

The Putin-proposed peace treaty would be something like an interim treaty under which the two countries’ longstanding territorial issue over Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands would be separated, Panov explained.

He said that it would be all right to call the pact a good-neighbor treaty or a friendship and cooperation treaty if it is not deemed advisable to refer to it as a peace treaty.

Panov said that it is impossible to resolve the territorial issue at a time when there are concerns within Russia that the United States may deploy its troops on the islands if they are handed over to Japan. To change the situation, Russia and Japan need to conclude a peace treaty, he stressed.

Japan has long claimed sovereignty over the islands, which were seized by the former Soviet Union at the end of World War II. The territorial row has blocked the signing of a postwar peace treaty between Tokyo and Moscow. The islands are known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

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