Japan has rejected the proposition of Vladimir Putin to sign a peace treaty without preliminary conditions.
Putin made the proposition on Wednesday at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.
Tokyo’s position remains unchanged: the document cannot be signed until the territorial dispute between Russia and Japan is settled.
“We will persistently continue to hold negotiations on the basis of the previous course: first deal with the problems, with the return of the ‘northern territories’, and then sign a peace treaty,” said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
By “northern territories”, Japan means the southern chain of the Kuril Islands: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Khabomai, which were claimed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.
At the end of 2016, Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to engage in joint activity on the Kuril Islands, and to give former Japanese inhabitants access to them.
Putin’s new idea to suggest to Tokyo that they renounce all claims “was born right in the middle of his speech”, notes Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
“Let’s sign a peace treaty – not now, but by the end of the year, without any preliminary conditions,” Putin said at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.
“And then, on the basis of this peace treaty, as friends, we will continue to deal with all the disputes. Of course, it seems to me that this would make it easier for us to deal with all the problems we have been unable to address for 70 years,” said the Russian President.
Shinzo Abe, though present at the forum, did not comment on Putin’s proposal.
Russia is effectively continuing the official Soviet line, but it is pointless to hope that Japan will concede, believes Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Strategic Analysis and Technology.
It is clear that Japan will not sign a peace treaty with Russia unless their territorial claims to the Kuril Islands are satisfied. Furthermore, Japan is a US ally, and the US is unlikely to permit Japan to sign a peace treaty with Russia during the current deterioration of US-Russia relations, Pukhov adds.