TOKYO, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - Japan hopes that negotiations with Russia over the disputed Kuril Islands will soon lead to a resolution of the territorial issue, Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs Shunichi Yamaguchi said Saturday.
"We look forward to definite progress in diplomatic negotiations [with Russia] to shortly resolve the territorial issue," Yamaguchi is quoted as saying by Japan's NHK broadcaster.
The minister noted that many indigenous inhabitants of the region are over the age of 70 and that Japanese authorities will continue to do "everything possible" to resolve the dispute.
Japan and Russia never signed a permanent peace treaty following the end of hostilities in World War II because of a disagreement over four islands, which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan the Northern Territories. The disputed islands — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai — are currently administered by Russia, but still claimed by Japan.