No Deadline for Solving Islands Issue with Japan: Putin Aide (News)


Moscow, Dec. 13 (Jiji Press)—Yuri Ushakov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, indicated Tuesday Moscow's unwillingness to fix a deadline for resolving the issue of a Japan-Russia peace treaty including the territorial dispute over four Russia-held northwestern Pacific islands.

Speaking to reporters of Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency and other media outlets, Ushakov said he believes it is not appropriate to specify a deadline for finding a resolution acceptable to both Japan and Russia.

Putin, who will visit Japan from Thursday, is expected to explore ways to achieve progress on the territorial issue over the islands off Hokkaidō, called the Northern Territories in the Asian country, in talks with Prime Minister Abe Shinzō.

In 1997, Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto Ryūtarō and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, at a meeting in the Russian city of Krasnoyarsk, agreed to aim for conclusion of a peace treaty to formally end their World War II hostilities by 2000. Ushakov's comment can be taken to indicate that no similar deadline is likely to be set over the issue in the upcoming talks.

Meanwhile, Ushakov said there is a possibility that Abe and Putin will announce a statement on joint economic activities on the four islands, suggesting the likelihood of such a deal.

Ex-Residents of Russia-Held Isles Cautiously Awaiting Summit

Sapporo, Dec. 14 (Jiji Press)—Ahead of a two-day Japan-Russia summit starting Thursday, some former Japanese residents of four Russia-held islands are seeing a window of opportunity for the return of the islands, but others believe it is naive to have such expectations when it comes to negotiations with Russia.

"We're pinning high hopes on the meeting, which will take place while both current administrations are on a stable domestic footing," said Waki Kimio, 75, who leads a group of former Japanese residents of the islands, located off Hokkaido, northernmost Japan.

Waki was born on Kunashiri Island, one of the four isles, now collectively known as the Northern Territories in Japan, in 1941, but displaced in the autumn of 1948, after the territories were captured by Soviet troops in 1945 in the closing days of World War II.

Waki said he witnessed Soviet soldiers with machine guns intruding into his home, but he also remembers some days when he was peacefully living side by side with Russian families.

"I played with Russian children on the beach, and Russian mothers gave me biscuits and canned foods," he recalled.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

diplomacy Russia Jiji Press Northern Territories Vladimir Putin