Russia urges Japan to recognize results of World War II ahead of talks on disputed islands

Russia has urged Japan anew to recognize the results of World War II, including Moscow’s sovereignty over four northwestern Pacific islands claimed by Tokyo, ahead of a closely watched meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers.

The most important condition for seeking a solution to the issue of a bilateral peace treaty is for Japan to fully recognize the outcomes of the war, including Russia’s sovereignty over the islands, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.

The ministry also said that Russia and Japan need to elevate their relationship to a new level and increase mutual understanding between the people of the two countries.

The islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan, were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of the war. The longstanding territorial dispute has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, are scheduled to hold a meeting in Moscow on Monday.

The Kono-Lavrov meeting will be the first since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin, at their meeting in Buenos Aires early last month, tapped the ministers to serve as chiefs in the peace treaty negotiations, including the territorial spat.

The meeting is expected to be followed by a summit between Abe and Putin, seen taking place during a visit to Russia by the Japanese leader later in January.

When they met in Singapore in November, Abe and Putin agreed to accelerate the peace treaty negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which stipulated that two of the four islands, the Habomais and Shikotan, as known in Japan, be handed over to Japan after the conclusion of a World War II peace treaty between Tokyo and Moscow.

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