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Japan, Russia to begin Kuril Islands development project
June 3, 2017, 9:08 am

Abe and Putin during a bilateral summit in Nagato, Japan on December 15, 2016.
A peace treaty, including resolution of the Kuril Islands dispute, has eluded both countries [Image: PPIO]

Russian officials have said that Japan will dispatch a trade delegation to the South Kuril islands in July to meet with their Russian counterparts in order to pave the way for joint economic projects on the territory which Tokyo disputes as its own.

The announcement comes following progress made between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nagato, Japan last December to take steps to resolve the 72-year-old territorial dispute.

Both parties had agreed to start consultations on joint economic activities on the islands – an initiative suggested by the Japanese.

Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of Sakhalin Islands near the Kurils, told the TASS Russian news agency that the projects in the energy, tourism, and infrastructure sectors will likely be launched in 2018 following design and estimate studies.

A peace treaty has eluded both countries ever since Russian troops seized four Japanese islands – known as Kuril (or Kurilskiye Ostrova in Russian) – in the summer of 1945.

The four disputed islands – Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai – were occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the war and are today home to thousands of Russian civilians.

There have been stumbling blocks which hindered resolution of the dispute in the past. Russia says it wants to sign a peace treaty before resolving the Kuril Islands dispute.

Japan, on the other hand, wants the islands issue resolved before agreeing to sign a peace treaty.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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