Russian Speaker talks tough on Kurils

Russian Speaker talks tough on Kurils

The uninhabited Ushishir, a Kuril island. Source: Flickr

Moscow would never agree to limit its sovereignty over the Kuril islands and would not transfer them to Tokyo, Russian Upper House Speaker Valentina Matvienko said.

“Concerning the Kuril islands, their belonging is questionable for Japan but not for Russia. We got them after the Second World War, which is fixed in international documents. That is why the Russian sovereignty over them is unquestionable. As head of the Russian state Vladimir Putin noted, we are not selling our territories. At the same time we are ready to look for a compromise on the peace treaty, which will be acceptable for both parties,” Matvienko told a media conference in Japan.

She told the Japanese to establish a realistic position if they wanted to find a compromise. Matvienko said bilateral cooperation was another precondition for reaching an agreement.

In September, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok and held three hours of talks with Putin. The Russian president is due to visit to Japan on December 15. Ahead of the visit, the Japanese Kyodo news agency said Tokyo could block the US military from being stationed on the Kurils if Russia handed them back. Diplomatic sources told Kyodo that Moscow might hand over the two southern islands, Shikotan and Habomai, as stated in the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.

But according to Article 5 of the Japan-US security treaty, Washington is allowed to station troops in any area administered from Tokyo.
Japanese diplomats were trying to exclude the islands from the treaty, sources said.

“Russia won’t agree to hand over unless the possibility that the US military will be stationed there is ruled out,” a diplomatic source was quoted saying in the Japan Times.

However, Tokyo denied that it was studying the possibility of blocking US troops from being stationed on the Kurils. The Kuril Islands became Russian under the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 and have since prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty to formally end the Second World War. Tokyo has previously insisted the island chain should be returned under its control.
Japan still refuses to recognise Russian sovereignty over Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, which the Soviets seized at the end of the war.

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