FOCUS: Even Partial Return of Russia-Held Isles Difficult for Japan


Tokyo, Nov. 17 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Wednesday to accelerate negotiations to conclude a long-pending bilateral peace treaty, based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration.

But even the return of the smaller two of four Russian-held islands at the center of the two countries' territorial dispute could be difficult for Japan to achieve, observers said.

The joint declaration stipulates that the two islands will be handed over to Japan following the conclusion of the peace treaty, which would formally end their World War II hostilities.

The Abe-Putin agreement "means that we're resolved to get back at least the two islands without fail," a Japanese government source explained.

Abe appeared to focus on the return of the two islands, setting aside for the time being Japan's ultimate goal of retaking all of the four islands, which were seized by Soviet troops in the closing days of WWII.

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Jiji Press