Japan’s Prime Minister asserts Tokyo’s sovereignty over the southern Kurils

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo’s sovereignty extends to the islands of the southern Kuril range. He made the statement on Tuesday, October 12, during a debate in the lower house of parliament.

“The sovereignty of our country extends to the northern territories (as Japan calls the southern part of the Kuril Islands – Ed.). We must solve this issue without leaving it to the next generation. The government is set to make a peace treaty with Russia to resolve the ownership of the islands,” the prime minister stressed.

He pointed out that he is determined to negotiate with Moscow on this issue based on all previous agreements.

On October 8, Fumio Kishida announced during his speech at the session of the lower house of the Diet that a peace treaty between Japan and Russia would be signed only if the territorial issue is solved.

On October 7, Kishida had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the conversation, the Japanese prime minister told reporters that Japan still has a claim to the southern islands, a position that remains unchanged. During the conversation, Kishida said the Russian and Japanese sides stressed their willingness to negotiate a peace treaty.

On October 5 the head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry Toshimitsu Motegi said that the government of Japan under the new Prime Minister will continue an active dialogue with Russia to resolve the territorial issue and conclude a peace treaty. According to him, the sides will continue negotiations aimed at development of relations between Japan and Russia.

On September 3, at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum, the president of Russia called the absence of a peace treaty with Japan nonsense. He recalled a constitutional amendment stating that the Southern Kurils are forever part of Russia. However, this does not change Moscow’s interest in concluding a peace treaty following World War II, Putin stressed.

On June 4, Putin said that the Japanese position has changed very often since 1956, where the issue of the two islands of the Kuril Ridge was discussed. He added that after the resumption of negotiations it was two islands, but Japan’s position has changed again and it is now four islands.

However, Russia and the USSR never agreed on this, the head of state pointed out.