Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested on Wednesday that Russia and Japan sign a peace treaty this year, ending Second World War hostilities “without any preconditions” as a territorial dispute has led to decades of deadlock.
But Mr. Putin’s sudden proposal was received cooly in Japan, where a government spokesman said the two countries should first resolve the dispute before signing a peace deal.
The dispute between Russia and Japan centres on four islands in the strategically-located Kuril chain which the Soviet Union occupied at the end of war in 1945 but are claimed by Japan. It has kept the two countries from signing a peace accord that would formally end their wartime hostilities.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to reporters, described Mr. Putin’s proposal, made at an economic forum attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinpiang, as an impromptu idea and said the two leaders had not yet discussed it.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said a treaty with Russia would be signed “after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands”, referring to the disputed territory.
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