MOSCOW--The policy chief of Japan's ruling party met Russia’s foreign minister on May 2 to try to find a way out of a sovereignty dispute that has bedeviled bilateral ties for decades.
Seiji Maehara, chair of the policy research committee of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met at a Japanese restaurant in Moscow. Maehara said Japan and Russia should “tie a peace treaty and improve their bilateral relationship.” He identified the dispute over the sovereignty of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, which are known in Japan as the Northern Territories and claimed by the Japanese government, as a key sticking point.
Lavrov was guarded in his response, saying he hoped agreement could be achieved “on condition that it will not harm each other’s legal status.”
Maehara said in an interview with a local television program before the meeting with Lavrov: “We firmly believe the four islands are an integral part of Japan.”
But he also said it was important to come up with new ways of addressing the problem.
“We have had exhaustive discussions about each other’s status over the past 56 years,” he said. “I do not think it is constructive to repeat the same arguments.”
Maehara did not specify what new approach might break the deadlock. There is deep-rooted opposition among some Japanese to a measure that would compromise Japan’s territorial claim, such as demanding the Habomai islets and Shikotan as a condition for a peace treaty with Moscow.
- « Prev
- Next »