Moscow, March 12 (Jiji Press) — A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday reiterated the country’s stance of putting priority on concluding a World War II peace treaty with Japan in the ongoing negotiations between Moscow and Tokyo that also handle their longstanding territorial issue, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Dmitry Peskov said that very detailed work on the conclusion of a peace treaty is under way between Russia and Japan, rather than on the issue of whether islands at the center of the territorial row should be returned or not, Interfax reported.
He made the remarks in response to a report by the Russian newspaper RBK quoting an informed source as saying that Russia is not considering surrendering the islands to Japan.
Asked whether the Russian-held islands would be handed over to Japan if a peace treaty is concluded, the Kremlin spokesman said no decision has been made at all on any related process, according to Interfax.
This kind of negotiations could take several years before being completed, Peskov said. In principle, no detailed information is provided while such negotiations are under way, he said, adding that this will apply to the ongoing talks between Russia and Japan.
Tokyo claims that the islands in question were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II. Moscow’s position is that the islands legally became its territory as a result of the war.
The decades-old territorial dispute has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities. The northwestern Pacific islands are known as the Northern Territories in Japan.