Elected Chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan Yoshihide Suga noted the importance of the issue of ownership of the four southern islands of the Kuril Ridge, which the Japanese side calls “northern territories”.
“As for the issue of “northern territories”, I intend to continue dialogue (with Russia. – Ed.) to clarify the issue of ownership of the four islands,” – quotes NHK TV channel words of the Japanese Prime Minister.
Press secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov had previously spoken on this subject. According to him, the answer to the fate of the islands is in an updated version of the Russian Constitution. Probably, Peskov was referring to the provision prohibiting alienation of federal territories.
Japan claims the four islands of the South Kuril Ridge – Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai, referring to the Treatise on Trade and Borders of 1855. According to the document, Japan crossed these territories, and the remaining islands of the Kuril Ridge were recognized as Russian possessions. Moscow’s position is that the Southern Kurils became part of the USSR following World War II, and the Russian sovereignty over them, which has international legal status, is beyond doubt.
In 2018 in Singapore, after a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the parties had agreed to speed up negotiations on a peace treaty based on the 1956 Joint Soviet-Japanese Declaration. This is considered to be a serious concession on the part of Japan since so far its official position has been to demand the return of the four islands and only then to conclude a peace treaty.
Yoshihide Suga is expected to replace Shinzo Abe, who is retiring due to health reasons.
In a Monday vote for the new head of the ruling party, Suga won 377 votes, beating former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and former Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida with 68 and 89 votes.