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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 January 23 - 29  > Abe in summit meeting with Putin fails to make progress on territorial issue
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2019 January 23 - 29 [POLITICS]

Abe in summit meeting with Putin fails to make progress on territorial issue

January 24, 2019
Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on January 22 held a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. However, little progress was achieved in regard to the territorial issue, to the disappointment of Abe, who wanted to have a diplomatic achievement that he could brag about in elections slated for later this year.

With the House of Councilors election scheduled for July, Abe seeks to reach a broad agreement over the dispute over the Russian-held northern islands in late June when Putin will come to Japan to attend the Group of 20 summit meeting in Osaka. Given the result of the latest talks, an agreement has become hard to be realized.

At a joint press conference held after the summit meeting, Abe expressed his intent to foster bilateral efforts to find a mutually-acceptable solution under the leadership of the two leaders. On the other hand, Putin said that the two countries will have to undergo much work requiring great patience. Evidently, the Russian side is in no hurry to settle the territorial issue as the country controls the Japan-claimed “four northern islands” off Hokkaido and the Chishima Islands.

It is reported that hoping for an early conclusion of a peace treaty with Russia, Abe is considering making an agreement on the territorial issue with the return of only two of the four disputed islands. However, this is not likely to be acceptable to Russia, judging from the country’s public reaction. Abe should refrain from using such a tactic that would damage Japan’s sovereignty. Instead, he needs to negotiate with Putin with well thought out and historically accurate arguments as called for by the Japanese Communist Party.

The JCP has long insisted that the Chishima Islands and part of Hokkaido were unjustly taken over by the former Soviet Union in August 1945 in violation of the important principle of non-territorial expansion and that therefore they should be returned to Japan as a matter of course. Following this logic and obtaining support from the international community is the only workable way to settle the territorial issue.

Past related articles:
> Gov’t must not conclude with Russia a peace pact to have only Habomais and Shikotan returned: Shii [November 16, 2018]
> Abe's failure to counter Putin's proposal makes it difficult to resolve territorial issue [September 13, 2018]

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