Media: Russia preparing to hand over Kuril Islands to Japan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have appointed special representatives to negotiate the signing of a Japanese-Russian peace treaty.

Russia and Japan have chosen their respective deputy foreign ministers Igor Morgulov and Takeo Mori to represent them, the newspaper Mainichi reported.

Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami, who attended the meeting between Abe and Putin, explained that the two leaders “will closely coordinate their actions with the corresponding foreign ministers and special representatives, giving them direct instructions on moving the negotiations forward”.

On Saturday after meeting with Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Putin announced that he and the Japanese prime minister had agreed on a new mechanism to resolve the peace treaty problem. The two leaders would appoint special representatives for this purpose, and the process would be directly overseen by the foreign ministers.

As the article notes, such an agreement with the direct involvement of both countries’ leaders indicates a desire for negotiations where “political solutions are needed for many matters”. Such matters include the number of islands which may be returned to Japan, as well as the handover terms.

Among other things, they will need to decide which country will have sovereignty over the returned islands, and to determine the fate of the Russians living on the island of Shikotan.

In addition, Russia is concerned about the possible deployment of a US military base on the islands if they are returned.

Earlier, Russian presidential assistant Yuri Ushakov said that during the recent meeting in Singapore, “the leaders agreed to expedite the peace treaty negotiation process, with an emphasis on the 1956 declaration”.

“In order to do this, a special negotiation mechanism will be established. It seems to us that Putin and Abe will discuss this mechanism in Buenos Aires, after which it will be announced,” Ushakov noted.

  Russia, Japan, Kuril Islands, Putin