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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 September 12 - 18  > Abe's failure to counter Putin's proposal makes it difficult to resolve territorial issue
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2018 September 12 - 18 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Abe's failure to counter Putin's proposal makes it difficult to resolve territorial issue

September 13, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed concluding a Russia-Japan peace treaty by the end of 2018 without the imposition of pre-conditions, Reuters and other news media reported. He made this proposal on September 12 at a plenary meeting of the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok. Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was also present at the meeting.

A peace treaty will basically be aimed at ending the state of war and establishing a mutually recognized border. However, President Putin suggested concluding a peace treaty without resolving the “Northern Territories” issue. Such an agreement does not deserve to be called a peace treaty and it can effectively be an obstacle to the settlement of the issue concerning the four Russian-held islands of the Kurils.

Putin expressed his intent to shelve the border issue, stating that he will continue discussing all the pending issues following the signing of a peace treaty. This remark evidently runs counter to the Japanese government’s position that a Japan-Russia peace treaty must follow the settlement of the territorial issue. However, in response to Putin’s remark, PM Abe said nothing to defend Japan’s position. Abe’s silence should be called into question.

Putin also said that Abe suggested changing approaches toward the territorial issue. This indicates that Putin made the proposal about a peace treaty against the backdrop of the failure of Abe’s policy in regard to the territorial issue. Abe has taken what he calls a “new approach” which seeks to promote Japan-Russia joint economic activities on the four northern islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai, and Shikotan. Abe’s strategy has made the territorial issue even more difficult to resolve.

In the first place, the border issue between Japan and Russia has its root in the unjust demand made by the former Soviet Union at the 1945 Yalta Conference. Joseph Stalin in the conference demanded the handover of the Kuril Islands in defiance of the principle of territorial non-expansion, the key point in the Allied Forces’ postwar settlement. However, the U.S. and the U.K. accepted this demand and it was included in the secret Yalta agreement. Later, the former Soviet Union passed a law to annex the islands. As shown in the recent development, the first step to take to solve the Northern Territories issue should be to address the unjust agreement made in the last stages of WWII.

Past related articles:
> JCP seeks peace treaty stipulating return of all the Chishima Islands: JCP [February 8, 2018]
> How we can break the stalemate in the Japan-Russia territorial negotiations [October 18, 2016]
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