"I really would like to see the four islands returned. We are committed to continue negotiations and would like to solve the problem of the islands' belonging and conclude a peace treaty," Shimajiri said, as quoted by the Kyodo news agency.
The Kuril Islands are the subject of the long-standing territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. Tokyo lays claims to Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets dividing the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean.
The territorial dispute has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty after World War II.