Putin Celebrates New Plant on Isle Disputed with Japan

Politics

Vladivostok, Russia, Sept. 5 (Jiji Press)--Russian President Vladimir Putin celebrated on Thursday the opening of a new large fishery processing plant built on one of the four northwestern Pacific islands at the center of a decades-old territorial row between Moscow and Tokyo.

Talking with workers of the plant via a video link, Putin, now on a visit to Vladivostok, said he prays for the success of the factory built by major Russian fishery products company Gidrostroy.

Putin apparently intended to highlight Russia's effective control of the island, called Shikotan in Japan, and the other three islands, just before holding a bilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later on Thursday, on the sidelines of an Eastern Economic Forum meeting in the Russian Far East city, pundits said.

The four islands, collectively known in Japan as the Northern Territories, were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II. The territorial dispute has been preventing Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

After holding talks with Putin in Singapore last November, Abe said that they agreed to accelerate peace treaty negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration. The document called for the handover of two of the four islands--Shikotan and the Habomais--to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty.

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