Signing peace accord with Russia not easy: Japan

Buenos Aires, Nov 22 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said that although there was potential for a peace treaty between Japan and Russia in the future, but given their World War II rift, the path forward would not be easy.

Abe said this to the press in Buenos Aires late on Monday during an official visit to Argentina, Efe reported on Tuesday.

He was discussing his recent meetings with other heads of state at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Lima.

According to Abe, the two leaders — Russian President Vladimir Putin and himself — had reiterated their willingness earlier to talk to advance the signing of a peace treaty.

“For 70 years, we have been unable to have a peace treaty. A way to concluding a peace treaty is coming into sight. But we must make one step at a time. It is not easy to take a big step ahead,” said Abe.

He said he looked forward to the Russian premier’s next visit to Yamaguchi province in Japan, as well as creating a specific eight-section roadmap for economic cooperation.

Japan hopes that a bilateral accord would resolve the dispute over the Northern Territories, four islands in the Kuril archipelago annexed by Moscow at the end of World War II in 1945 but claimed by Tokyo.

“There has been no change to our existing position on the Northern Territories. The peace treaty issue cannot be solved with just one leaders’ summit,” he said.

Abe insisted that developing trust would be key to any reconciliation with Russia.

“I will be directly communicating with President Putin and make progress one solid step at a time,” he said.

On his meeting with US President Barack Obama, Abe said he valued the American leader’s visit to Hiroshima, as it expressed powerful support for a global future free of nuclear weapons.

The Japanese Prime Minister had also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at APEC, a meeting that he said was brief but nevertheless improved bilateral relations.

Abe, however, did not elaborate on the November 16 meeting in New York with US President-elect Donald Trump.

He although had appealed for a “free and open” economy among countries and the ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a US-driven initiative Trump vowed to scrap.

“I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country,” Trump said.

–IANS

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