Prior to that, the two top diplomats are expected to meet at the Munich Security Conference on February 16. According to the paper, that could help make maximum progress on the peace treaty issue in the run-up to the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, scheduled to be held in June when, as expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Japan.
Russia and Japan have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and the Habomai Islands is being challenged by Japan. Moscow has stated on numerous occasions that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands is beyond doubt.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed at a meeting in Singapore on November 14 to intensify Russian-Japanese negotiations on signing a peace treaty based on the Joint Declaration of October 19, 1956.
The Joint Declaration ended the state of war between both nations. The two countries resumed diplomatic and consular relations, but no peace treaty has been signed so far. Under Article 9 of the declaration, the Soviet Union agreed to hand over Shikotan and Habomai as a gesture of good will once a peace treaty is ultimately signed. The declaration was ratified by the two countries’ parliaments in December 1956.
However, in response to Japan’s signing a security treaty with the United States in 1960, the Soviet Union revoked its liabilities on the transfer of the islands. The Soviet government said back then that the islands would be handed over to Japan only when all foreign forces were withdrawn from its territory.