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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

Japan calls for resolution of island dispute.

(6 September 2016)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Vladivostok for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and made an appeal to the Russian Premier to end the dispute over a group of islands which has been ongoing since the end of World War Two.

Mr Abe and Mr Putin held a bilateral meeting to discuss negotiations over the disputed islands, - known to Russia as the ‘Southern Kurile Islands’ and to Japan as the ‘Northern Territories’.

Prime Minister Abe called for “an end to the unnatural state of affairs that has continued these 70 years”, saying that “By leaving the situation as it is, neither you nor I will be able to leave better possibilities to future generations”.

The territorial row over the island chain, which was taken by Soviet troops at the end of World War Two, covers around 5,000 square kilometres and has a Russian population of thousands. The islands offer rich fishing and the starting point for any settlement is likely to be a 1956 joint declaration by Japan and the Soviet Union that agrees the smallest of the islands – Habamai and Shikotan – should be returned to Japan.

Mr Putin stated it would be difficult, though possible, to find a solution, however said “We need to create a situation where neither side feels like a loser or feels impinged or infringed in the process”. He went on to say that it was not as simple as a sale or exchange of land.

Mr Putin is scheduled to visit Japan in December 2016 where talks may resume but there has been no official progress.