Japan continues to advance ties with Russia: FM

22:03, June 10, 2010      

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Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada reassured his Russian counterpart that the new Japanese government led by Prime Minister Naoto Kan would continue to focus on advancing political and economic relations and resolve to settle a long-standing territorial row between the two countries, ministry officials said Thursday.

During a telephone conversation on Wednesday initiated by Japan, Okada told his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov that in in light of recent changes in Japan's ruling cabinet, there would be no changes on Japan's part in terms of diplomatic policy towards Russia.

Japan's foreign minister also highlighted the fact that newly elected Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the majority of his cabinet were largely unchanged from the previous cabinet serving under former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Japanese officials said, suggesting that the continuity would work in both country's best interests.

For his part Lavrov said he was hopeful that friendly and constructive cooperation between the two countries would continue as had been the case when Hatoyama had been in power and the Russian foreign minister expressed his hope that the bilateral relationship could be expanded further.

Lavrov continued to say that Russia was ready to continue dialogue on a peace treaty on the basis of mutual trust and would like to visit Japan to discuss the future of the two country's economic and political cooperation, including matters concerning the territorial dispute.

In the meantime, Okada said the Japanese prime minister is looking forward to meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on the sidelines of a Group of Eight summit meeting starting June 25 in Canada, said foreign ministry sources.

The Kuril Islands dispute, also known as the Northern Territories dispute, has prevented the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty.

Russia claims sovereignty over four island that comprise the South Kuril Islands and has done so since the occupation of the islands by Soviet forces at the end of World War II.

However, Japan claims the islands as their own and refers to them as the Northern Territories and as being part of the Nemuro subprefecture of Hokkaido Prefecture in northern Japan.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty between the Allied Powers and Japan from 1951 states that Japan must give up all claims to the Kuril islands, but at the same time it does not recognize the former Soviet Union's sovereignty over the islands.

Source: Xinhua


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