"As regards solving the dispute over sovereignty of four islands [South Kuril Islands] and signing the peace treaty, the both countries recognize [its importance]. I have personal commitment to the issue because my father as the foreign minister was also dealing with Japan-Russia relations. If there is a chance, I would like to meet with [Russian] Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov to hold talks and to boost Japan-Russia relations," Kono told a press conference, following the first Cabinet meeting.
Kono also recalled that his grandfather, then-Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Ichiro Kono, took part in talks with the Soviet Union on the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, the document providing for the end of the state of war and restoration of diplomatic relations between the two states.
Russian-Japanese relations have long been complicated by the fact that the two nations have never signed a permanent peace treaty after the end of World War II. No deal was reached due to a disagreement over a group of four islands claimed by both countries — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai (collectively referred to as the South Kuril Islands).