Isle Talks with Russia Main Focus of 2019 Japan Diplomacy

Politics

Tokyo, Jan. 4 (Jiji Press)--The main focus of Japan's diplomacy in 2019 would be negotiations with Russia to settle the issue of sovereignty over the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido and conclude a bilateral peace treaty to officially put an end to their World War II hostilities.

But Japan should also keep tackling such challenges as bringing back Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea decades ago and improving relations with South Korea that have been souring.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is on course to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister in November, is eager to realize the peace treaty with Russia as a legacy of his administration.

Abe plans to hold another summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on Jan. 21, after they agreed to accelerate bilateral negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration and set a negotiation framework in their meetings late last year.

The declaration stipulated the return of two of the four islands--the Habomais and Shikotan--after the conclusion of the treaty, while the Japanese government has maintained the basic stance of achieving the simultaneous handover of all four islands also including huge Kunashiri and Etorofu.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press