"The success of the negotiations depends on how they can be held in a quiet atmosphere. The government’s position is to move the negotiations forward, this is a top priority," said Abe at the parliamentary hearings, responding to the reproach of the deputy that the last statements of the Russian politicians suggest that Japan is not going to give up its position on the "northern territories", as the four islands of the southern Kuriles, Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai, are called here.
Abe explained that “the legal position has not changed,” but he did not use the terms “native territory of Japan” and “illegally occupied by Russia” that are stable for expressing this position. This is precisely the last time that the prime minister and foreign minister Taro Kono have been accused of blaming them for surrendering to the position of Japan in negotiations with Russia.
He stressed that thanks to the talks with the Russian president and his visit to Japan, they managed to open air visits to the islands by their former residents.
Relations between Russia and Japan for many years overshadowed by the absence of a peace treaty. Japan claims the islands of Kunashir, Shikotan, Iturup and Habomai, referring to the bilateral Treatise on Trade and the Borders of 1855. In 1956, the USSR and Japan signed a Joint Declaration, in which Moscow agreed to consider the possibility of transferring Japan to Habomai and Shikotan after the conclusion of a peace treaty, and the fate of Kunashir and Iturup was not affected. The USSR hoped that the Joint Declaration would put an end to the dispute, but Japan considered the document to be only part of the solution to the problem, without abandoning claims on all the islands. Subsequent negotiations resulted in nothing; the peace treaty at the end of the Second World War was never signed.
There is a view that serious opposition arose from the United States, which threatened that if Japan agreed to transfer only two of the four islands to it, this would affect the process of returning Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty (the Agreement on the return of Okinawa to Japan entered into force in 1972) . Moscow’s position is that the islands became part of the USSR following the results of the Second World War and the sovereignty of the Russian Federation over them is beyond doubt.
A meeting between Putin and Abe took place on November 14 in Singapore. Following its results, the Japanese prime minister said that the parties had agreed to speed up the negotiation process on a peace treaty on the basis of the 1956 Soviet-Japanese Declaration. This is a serious concession on the part of Japan, since so far its official position has been to demand the return of Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai.