The Japanese-Russian working group on joint economic activities on the southern Kuril Islands may hold an online meeting on June 5, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported on Tuesday.
According to the paper, the parties are in consultation on the date of the meeting. The group is expected to pave the way for talks involving the two countries’ deputy foreign ministers, TASS reports.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said earlier that Tokyo and Moscow would hold consultations on joint economic activities on the southern Kuril Islands in the first half of June.
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 elations, 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.
The two countries adopted a joint statement during the Russian president's visit to Japan in December 2016, saying that consultations on joint economic activities on the southern Kuril Islands would help pave the way for a peace treaty. Consultations are underway on cooperation in the areas of aquaculture, greenhouse farming, tourism, wind energy and waste management.
In November 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 Moscow and Tokyo would speed up peace treaty talks based on the 1956 Joint Declaration.