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    Rocks off Shikotan Island, aka Spanberg or Sikotan, in the Kurils

    Tokyo Ready to Be More Flexible on Southern Kurils Issue

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    Tokyo is ready to show more flexibility in dealing with the territorial dispute over Southern Kuril Islands, namely, not to insist on Moscow’s recognition of Japan’s sovereignty over the islands on condition of their handing over to Japan, local media reported Wednesday, citing a government source.

    TOKYO (Sputnik) — According to the Kyodo news agency, the government of Japan will review its standpoint on the talks with Russia over the territorial dispute in order not to bring the negotiations to a deadlock.

    Japan will agree to reach peace agreement with Russia if the islands are handed over to Tokyo and it will not insist on their territorial affiliation, the Kyodo news agency said.

    Japan and Russia never signed a permanent peace treaty after World War II due to a disagreement over four islands which Russia calls the Southern Kurils and Japan the Northern Territories: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai. The disputed islands, located in the Sea of Okhotsk, were claimed by Soviet forces at the end of the war.

    According to the Joint Declaration of 1956 between Japan and the Soviet Union, the Soviet side proposed to settle the dispute by returning Shikotan and Habomai to Japan, while the status of Kunashir and Iturup remained unaltered. According to experts, the distinction between the two pairs of islands has led to difficulties in the negotiation process.

    The relations between the two states have recently been re-energized. In September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took part in the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, during which he held three-hour talks with the Russian president. One of the outcomes of the meeting was the announcement of Putin's visit to Japan on December 15, which had been postponed from 2014.

    Russian President Putin met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 2-3, discussing the territorial dispute between the two countries.

    In early October, Abe said that Japan would insist on its sovereignty claims over the four islands.

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    South Kuril Islands, Kuril Islands, Japan, Russia
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