Japan believes talks with Russia should discuss the entire southern part of the Kuril Islands, but according to Tokyo, Japan has sovereignty over these territories, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a debate in the parliament on Wednesday.
"The Northern Territories (Japan’s term for the Southern Kuril Islands - TASS) are the islands, which are under our sovereignty. Besides, the issue at talks with Russia on a peace treaty should be defining the ownership of all four northern islands. This is our government’s consistent position," Suga said.
Meanwhile, Suga noted that Japan planned to develop joint economic activity with Russia in the Southern Kuril Islands. He stressed that this activity must not infringe on both sides’ legal positions.
Moscow and Tokyo have been in talks to sign a peace treaty since the mid-20th century. The main stumbling block to achieving this is the ownership issue over the Southern Kuril Islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan. After the end of World War II, the Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan Islands and uninhabited islands called Habomai has been challenged by Japan. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly said that Russia’s sovereignty over these islands, which is committed to paper in international documents, cannot be called in question.