Japan's Abe vows to resolve territorial dispute with Russia

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second from right, delivers a speech during an annual rally, calling on Russia to return disputed islands which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia calls Kuril Islands, in Tokyo Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Abe vowed to take a “step-by-step” approach in resolving a territorial dispute with Russia left over from World War II. Abe said that settling the conflict over islands north of Hokkaido that are controlled by Russia was difficult but necessary. Japanese slogans in the background read: "Return the Northern Territories." (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second from right, arrives to deliver a speech during an annual rally, calling on Russia to return disputed islands which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia calls Kuril Islands, in Tokyo Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Abe vowed to take a “step-by-step” approach in resolving a territorial dispute with Russia left over from World War II. Abe said that settling the conflict over islands north of Hokkaido that are controlled by Russia was difficult but necessary. Japanese slogans partially seen in the background read: "Return." (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Thursday to take a "step-by-step" approach in resolving a territorial dispute with Russia left over from World War II.

Abe told a rally of former residents of four islands seized by Russia in the war's final days and their supporters Thursday that settling the conflict over what Japan calls its "northern territories" was difficult but necessary.

"It is not easy to resolve this task remaining over 73 years since the war. Yet, we need to tackle this," Abe said.

"Keeping in mind your sentiments toward the Northern Territory, we are determined to take a step-by-step approach toward resolving the territorial issue," he said.

Regaining the islands north of Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido has been a priority for Abe and his conservative base. For seven decades, the dispute has prevented Tokyo and Moscow from signing a peace treaty.

In November, Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to accelerate negotiations based on a 1956 Soviet proposal to return two of the islands to Japan.

That suggestion angered Russian nationalists, and last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned Japan it must recognize the islands as part of Russia as a starting point for talks.

Abe said the negotiations would continue based on the guidelines agreed to with Putin in order to sign a peace treaty "while people of Japan and Russia strengthen their mutual trust and friendship."

While Abe is keen to make progress on the dispute with Russia and find opportunities to cooperate in developing oil and gas and other natural resources, China is the overriding concern, said James Brown, associated professor at Temple University's Japan Campus.

"There is also the concern that the United States, especially under the 'America First' policy of (President Donald) Trump, is somewhat of a less reliable ally than it was in the past," Brown said.

To avoid facing isolation among "hostile" powers such as China, North Korea and Russia, "it seems that Abe has calculated that of those countries, it would make sense to try and normalize relations with Russia and thereby to draw it away from China," he said.

You may also interested in

China marks Lunar New Year with prayers, incense,...

Jan 28, 2017

Chinese are lighting incense sticks and praying at temples to wish for an auspicious start to the...

Asian stocks lower after Wall Street losses

Mar 8, 2017

Asian stocks have declined after Wall Street fell for a second day following President Donald...

NHL staging preseason games in China between...

Mar 30, 2017

The NHL will play its first games in China this fall when the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver...

China plans panda preserve 3 times size of...

Mar 31, 2017

China plans a preserve for giant pandas that will be three times the size of Yellowstone National...

Norwegian leader meets with China's Xi as ties...

Apr 10, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping has met with Norway's prime minister as the two countries move beyond...

About Us

Frontal Report is an emerging leader in all forms of media. We aim to be the leading news brand for readers around the world.

Contact us: sales[at]frontalreport.com

Subscribe Now!