© Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Japan intends to continue consultations with Russia on organizing joint economic activity in the southern part of the Kuril Islands in the context of the problem of a peace treaty, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
"We agreed that the joint economic activity (in the Kurils - TASS) should not infringe on the legal positions of both countries. Japan is set for the further constructive discussion with the Russian side of the joint activity in this form. Simultaneously with this discussion we intend to promote the creation of an atmosphere to sign the peace treaty," he said.
Thus the Japanese top diplomat commented on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that an unprecedented set of benefits and incentives for businesses will be created on the Kuril Islands, including exemption from key income and property taxes, land and transport taxes for 10 years. Putin noted that not only Russian but also foreign investors, including the Japanese, will be able to take advantage of those benefits in the Kurils, TASS reports.
On Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato stated that the special tax regime Russia is going to introduce on the Kuril Islands runs counter to Tokyo's stance regarding these territories and that Tokyo notified Russia of the inadmissibility of such plans.
Since the middle of the last century, Moscow and Tokyo have been intermittently negotiating a peace agreement following World War II. The main obstacle to its conclusion was the question of the ownership of the southern part of the Kuril ridge. In 1945, the entire archipelago was incorporated into the Soviet Union, but the Japanese side disputes the belonging of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and the group of now uninhabited islands, which in Japan is called Habomai. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stressed that Russian sovereignty over them, which has the appropriate international legal form, is beyond question.
After Putin’s visit to Japan in December 2016 and his meetings with then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a joint statement was issued noting that an important step towards signing the peace treaty would be launching consultations on the joint economic activity in the Southern Kuril Islands. Currently, the two countries are holding consultations on the joint economic activity in five fields: aquatic culture, greenhouses, tourism, wind energy and waste processing.