Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hoping that his successor Yoshihide Suga will be able to boost talks with Russia to resolve the peace treaty issue, he said in an interview with Yomiuri Shimbun published Wednesday.
"The talks where national interests clash cannot be easy. However, we should not leave the territorial issues unattended. I hope that under Prime Minister Suga the talks will be revitalized and a peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo will be signed," he said.
According to Abe, Russia is also looking to "resolve the [peace treaty] issue in medium-and long-range prospect and strengthen ties with Japan."
Abe held 27 meetings with the Russian president since assuming his office in December 2012. In August, Abe announced his resignation, paving the way for Suga to become the prime minister on September 16, TASS reports.
Peace treaty issue
Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a joint declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached. Moscow has stated many times that Russia’s sovereignty over the islands cannot be called into question.
On November 14, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Singapore and agreed that the two countries would speed up peace treaty talks based on the 1956 declaration.