Japan Report Claims Sovereignty over Isles Disputed with Russia


Tokyo, May 19 (Jiji Press)--Japan's government in its 2020 Diplomatic Bluebook, released Tuesday, claimed sovereignty over the four Russian-controlled northwestern Pacific islands, reviving such rhetoric for the first time in two years.

The 2019 diplomatic report dropped the wording that the islands, located off the northern Japan prefecture of Hokkaido, "belong to Japan," which was included in the 2018 bluebook.

The reinstating of the rhetoric came apparently in a rebuttal to Moscow's claim that the islands became its territory as a result of World War II, as well as in response to the criticism from Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party of the government's failure to mention Tokyo's position over the islands in the 2019 Diplomatic Bluebook.

The government has been energetically negotiating with Russia under its basic policy of concluding a bilateral peace treaty through the resolution of the issue of the attribution of the islands, said the 2020 report, which was submitted to a cabinet meeting Tuesday by Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

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

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