Japan, Russia vow concrete steps to end island dispute


The leaders of Japan and Russia pledged Saturday to take concrete steps to resolve a territorial dispute, saying they wanted normal ties after a row that has endured for decades.

Russia and Japan have never signed a peace treaty to formally end World War II due to Tokyo's claims over four islands which Soviet troops seized in 1945 off Japan's northern island of Hokkaido.

Prime Minister Taro Aso, who took office in September, raised the island dispute in his first talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Lima.

"We have to define the border otherwise this problem will remain an element of destabilization in the region," Aso told Medvedev at the start of the meeting.

"I know you're a lawyer so you know about this. I would like to normalize Russian-Japanese relations."

Medvedev replied: "There are no unresolvable problems. You see the delegations here. Let them do something useful and make an effort."

While not revealing specifics, a Japanese government official said the two leaders ordered government officials "to begin concrete work."

"President Medvedev said he has no intention to leave the resolution of the issue to the next generation," the official said.

Medvedev said "although resistance by bureaucrats exists around the world, we can resolve the issue with the leaders' goodwill," according to the Japanese official.

The two countries agreed to launch "intensive, political dialogue on leaders' level" between the two countries, including a visit by Russia's powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Japan early next year.

"I like such frank dialogue," Medvedev was quoted by the Japanese official as telling Aso. "I want to hold such dialogue quite often."

The dispute over the islands, whose Japanese residents were expelled from their homes, has clouded over relations between the two countries whose trade level remains low for neighbors.

Japan has also been alarmed by what it believes is a rise in intrusions by Russian forces into its air and maritime space.

In an effort to forge personal ties, Aso, a self-proclaimed comic book geek, presented Medvedev a remote-controlled doll of Japan's popular animation character Doraemon as he knew Medvedev's son is a big fan of the earless robot cat.

Aso and Medvedev also called on North Korea to clarify steps it would take to denuclearize under a six-nation aid-for-disarmament pact.

Both Russia, which traditionally maintains close ties with Pyongyang, and Japan are members of the six-way talks, which also involve the two Koreas, China and the United States.

Japan has tense ties with North Korea, in part due to the communist regime's kidnappings of Japanese civilians in the 1970s and 1980s to train its spies.

© Wire reports

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Prime Minister Aso and Foreign Minister Medvedev have made a good start to re-opening negotiations over the "Northern Territories"/"Kurile Islands" dispute that has bedevilled Russo-Japanese relations since 1956. Until now, Japan has insisted on the return of all four occupied islands, whilst Russia has only offered two islands. The issue has become clouded by nationalist feelings in both countries, blocking the way to a possible compromise. Perhaps now, though, Japan and Russia can make a fresh beginning and finally resolve this long-standing controversy.

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If I were born yesterday, I'm inclined to believe it. Yeah! After 60+ years, Russia taking the islands... The Kagemusha, Putin, and trust worthy ex communists, how much of what they say mean counts for anything. Only negotiation Russians understand is force, which Japan is a useless wimp!

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Medvedev replied: “There are no unresolvable problems. You see the delegations here. Let them do something useful and make an effort.”

Do u guys find out what he mean? Bingo!~ ~ ~ ~ he is saying " give me your offer! " and Russia is quite experienced about this --- they ever sold Alaska to the US!

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I.E.- Japan pays lots of money to get its islands back. Period.

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Of course Russia wants to play nice - with oil prices tanking they have less reason to swagger.

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The only thing "concrete" that Japan will ever have to do again with the Russian Kurile Islands is if they donate some concrete for repairs to Muneo House.

Well, everyone has a price, but Russia will never allow the return of the territories til they are mined for their mineral riches by Russian companies, and that won't be finished anytime soon.

Korea won't give back Takeshima, either.

Japan should focus its efforts more on its tetrapod project to reinforce Okinotorishima to expand its EEZ, and grovelling for some of the oil/natural gas riches from the areas in the East China Sea that they dispute with China.

Good luck, Japan!

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Please elaborate on these fabled mineral riches of the four islands Japan wants back. Not much there except bogs, however the waters around them may hold a lot more. Japan will eventually get them back, though I'm sure with some cash changing hands. And your undying support, I'm sure.

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"..Russia vows concrete steps to end island dispute"

Ah, well...just give them back then! Does mother Russia need more real estate? Ask them in Georgia, or just look into Putin's eyes when he comes.

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Japan should focus its efforts more on its tetrapod project to reinforce >Okinotorishima to expand its EEZ, and grovelling for some of the >oil/natural gas riches from the areas in the East China Sea that they >dispute with China.

Were you unaware that China and Japan already resolved the East China Sea dispute earlier this year? Better catch up on the news.

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No northern territories, no peace treaty! I call for the stopping of all trade with Russia and the enforcement of Japanese Airspace by force. I do not understand what there is to discuss with them. Maybe they will promise not to invade Japan if they are able to keep these islands. Maybe they are threatening the use of atomic weapons against Japan. They need to maintain the level of terror and the American Defense missiles ruin their terror weapons. A bit unlikely perhaps but what is there to talk about? Japan wants the 4 islands back and Russia wants to keep them, what is there is resolve?

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"Please elaborate on these fabled mineral riches of the four islands Japan wants back."

We've had many discussions the past several years on JT concerning this issue. Look it up in the archives here or elsewhere.

Ossan: If you believe that China and Japan have resolved the issue you mention it's your business, but I think each side has its own interpretation as to what said agreement means. Don't just "catch up on the news," Ossan, think critically about what you read and what it truly means. I hope this helps you down the road on JT. Good luck!

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"I call for the stopping of all trade with Russia and the enforcement of Japanese Airspace by force."

YuriOtani the Brave ~~~~!

you regarded this as some computer game? or you play internet game too much lately? I suggest that it maybe safier to try your way first to sort out the other islet problem JP and SK dispute right now.

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Luckily there are four islands, and in the case of Takeshima, two. That makes the maths for a deal pretty easy, even for diplomats and politicians. (Imagine if there had been three, and only one Takeshima island!!! :D )

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I don't expect a solution any time soon. Japan's position of wanting all four islands back will never change. Therefore, if Russia only offers two islands the situation will remain unresolved.

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Russia will offer NOTHING, Yosun my position is that Korea be allowed to keep those rocks. There were never any Japanese living there. Also I would rather be know of as brave than a coward. Our Northern territories are very very different. The Russians used ethic cleansing to kill or force the population to flee. The Russians are very good at this procedure which is being done at this very moment in Georgia. No Northern Territories, No Peace!

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Ossan: If you believe that China and Japan have resolved the issue you >mention it's your business, but I think each side has its own >interpretation as to what said agreement means.

No, it's called an agreement signed by two sovereign nations. Seems like you are the only one with their own interpration.

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Yeah, this is a simple dispute to resolve. Russia returns the islands, signs the accord. No more problems! Of course the Russians won't do that. I mean, from their perspective, they stole the islands, fair and square! They even went to the trouble to kick out all the residents too. So from their perspective, its all them.

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Nothing a lot of money won't solve.

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History says that time will change everything! people of 150 years later won't consider things like what we do today. Like China has been neighboring with Russia along some 10,000+ km border for 350 years, and China is so weak during quite part of this period, so you can imagine how much terrible things Chinese have been suffering.... but now Russia and China have already compromised and sorted out their border problem. People always need to face next stage of life without unnecessary burden. Otherwise, how American native Indian or black of all over the world can enjoy their life without hatred?

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Sounds like more empty promises to me. We've heard this before - long, long ago.

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Let the Russians keep em' it's cold up there and other than extending the fishing boundries what good would possessing the Krils do? I figure if this was Japanese territory it would just mean more wasted government subsidies to make them viable and we have enough of that already.

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I think it might be a nice place for a US base. Or at least a listening post. So maybe Japan ought to try and get these islands back.

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An American would say "let them keep them", he would reject outright the Russians claiming any part of the United States. An Russian analyst predicts the breakup of America and perhaps a claim for the state of Alaska! The Russian arrogance know no limitations.


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Russia can sell oil and nat gas to Japan, and they may be able to grow a lot of food in future as well. Japan, in return, can sell cars and other high tech stuff to the Russians who are getting richer. And Japanese love Russian culture( music and musicians especially)!

Since NATO and East Europe are recently ganging up on Russia, Japan and Russia are now realizing they actually have many reasons to get along.

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These islands are worth very little in respect to the actual usage of the land but the 200 mile economic exclusivity zone they control encompasses some of the richest fishing areas on the planet and possible oil and gas reserves. I belive the Russians are willing to give the Japanese visitation rights but will never give control to Japan. Russia ceded the islands to japan after the 1905-06 war and re-occupied them after WWII. The U.S. backs Japanese claim but are not willing to make a big deal about it.

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Remember Suzuki Muneo? He claimed to have solved the dispute and was soundly rebuffed by the Russians. They alwasy act like the subject is open to discussion but hold firm on their claim to the islands. The only thing they are ready to do is let Japanese visit the islands.

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OOps, my historical bad, they were ceded to Japan by treaty in 1875.

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Well, wait and see...I bet Russia will use these islands as bargaining chips to remove some of the US power and influence over Japan and the North East Asia in general.

Since they have oil/gas and rather be rich and comfortable nowadays than be armed and dangerous and that they also want Japan to work together on developing Siberia, Russia may finally show some willingness to compromise a little on them.

I think Japan has been getting fed up with the US and this is an opportune time for it while the China and US are busy locked in this love/hate business relationship.

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how much land does Russia have? practically most of Eurasia! a few rocky islands means NOTHING to them save for some 'strategic purpose'.

from Russia with, please see my butt.

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Big bad Russian bear to hungry and too wagamama to share with the little Japanese koi fish? If I were a little Japanese fish, I would be careful of a big hungry bear, in this case one backed by Putin, the KGB etc...

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