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70 pct of Japanese see Russia leading isle talks, Jiji Press poll

Tokyo, Feb. 15 (Jiji Press)–A Jiji Press opinion survey showed Friday 70.0 pct of Japanese people believe that Moscow is leading negotiations between Japan and Russia on their territorial dispute over four northwestern Pacific islands.


The proportion of respondents who think that Japan is leading the longstanding territorial talks stood at 12.3 pct.


The Russian-held islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan, were seized from Japan by Soviet troops in the closing days of World War II.


The survey also showed that 55.8 pct of all respondents support a plan to promote the negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet join declaration, as agreed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in their summit in Singapore in November last year.


By contrast, 21.5 pct opposed the plan, while 22.7 pct said they neither agree nor disagree, or do not know.


The declaration stipulates the return of two of the four islands–the Habomai group of islets and Shikotan–to Japan after concluding a bilateral peace treaty to formally end wartime hostilities.


But the declaration does not refer to the other two islands–Etorofu and Kunashiri.


Also in the survey, 38.7 pct of all respondents said they agree that the territorial dispute should be resolved during Abe’s term of office as prime minister, as he has vowed to do, compared with 38.3 pct who do not agree. Meanwhile, 22.9 pct said they neither agree nor disagree, or do not know.


The interview-based survey was conducted for four days through Monday, covering 2,000 people aged 18 or over across Japan. Valid responses came from 61.1 pct.

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