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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 December 14 - 20  > Shii comments on Japan-Russia summit meeting
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2016 December 14 - 20 TOP3 [JCP]

Shii comments on Japan-Russia summit meeting

December 17, 2016
Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on December 16 published the following comment on the two-day summit meeting between Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and Russian President Vladimir Putin:

The Japanese people’s best hope for the summit meeting was to see progress in the territorial negotiations between Japan and Russia. However, the summit bore no fruit regarding this issue.

Ahead of the meeting, President Putin stated that the result of World War II was “sealed” in international documents following the war. With a mind to the 1945 Yalta Agreement which stipulates the “cession of the Chishima (Kurile) Islands” to the former Soviet Union, Putin justified the lawless occupation of the Chishima Archipelago as well as the islands of Habomai and Shikotan. “There is no territorial dispute with Japan,” he said.

In response to Putin’s stance, PM Abe took what he calls a “new approach”. He claimed that a path to a resolution of the territorial issue will be opened by developing “mutual trust” between the two leaders and by promoting “bilateral economic cooperation”. However, the whole process until now shows that territorial negotiations between the two countries cannot make progress based only on “mutual trust” and “economic cooperation”.

At the summit, Abe and Putin agreed to launch talks on “joint economic activities under a special system” on the four disputed islands (the islands of Kunashiri, Etorofu, Habomai, and Shikotan). This move, however, has caused serious concern.

First, the Russian side repeatedly states that this “shall be conducted under Russian sovereignty”. Therefore, in the process of embodying “joint economic activities”, it is feared that sovereignty over the Japanese territory may be eroded.

Secondly, under the circumstances that the international community such as the G7 and EU has been imposing sanctions against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, for Japan to promote economic cooperation with Russia could undermine international efforts against Russia.

PM Abe stressed that the “joint economic activities” will be a step toward concluding a peace treaty, but there is no guarantee in this regard. On the contrary, it will only encourage Russian control over the four islands politically and economically.

In order to break the impasse of the Japan-Russia territorial issue, Japan needs to establish a solid negotiating position and a sound argument that is internationally acceptable.

The root cause of the Japan-Russia territorial dispute is that in violation of the post-WWII principle of “no territorial expansion”, the three nations of the United States, Britain, and Russia in the Yalta agreement decided on the “handover of the Chishima Archipelago”. Tied down by this agreement, the Japanese government in the San Francisco Treaty declared the “renunciation of the Chishima Archipelago”.

By squarely putting a scalpel into such unfairness, the Japanese government should aim to conclude a peace treaty which stipulates the return of the entire Chishima Islands. Japan should seek the immediate return of Habomai and Shikotan which are part of Hokkaido through an intermediate friendship treaty.

The Japanese government does not take this basic stance, so progress in the Japan-Russia territorial issue has not been made for more than 70 years after the war. The JCP strongly demands a drastic shift in existing Japan-Russia territorial talks.
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