Kishida Vows All-Out Efforts over Isles Issue with Russia


Tokyo, Feb. 7 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday vowed to make all-out efforts to resolve the country's decades-old territorial issue with Russia over four northwestern Pacific islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan.

Amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Japan-Russia relationship is "in a difficult situation," Kishida said at the National Rally to Demand the Return of the Northern Territories, held in Tokyo by the government and others. Feb. 7 is designated as Northern Territories Day in Japan.

"We are sticking to the policy of concluding a peace treaty (with Russia) after resolving the territorial row," Kishida said, adding, "It is essential for the government and the public to join forces in tackling the matter."

The islands, located off Hokkaido, northern Japan, were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II and have long been claimed by Japan. The territorial dispute has been preventing Tokyo and Moscow from concluding a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities.

Kishida said exchange programs with Russia, including one for visits to family graves on the islands by former Japanese residents, are among "the highest-priority issues" for Japan-Russia relations moving forward. "I do hope that the situation will turn around as soon as possible to allow the restart (of the programs)," he said.

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Jiji Press