"The Japanese people are most interested in the issue of the northern territories… We are wholeheartedly hoping for the resolution of this problem based on trust-filled relations between the leaders of the two countries, Mr. Abe and Mr. Putin. That is why I hope that this problem will be resolved and this will facilitate the establishment of friendly relations between the countries," Katsuhiko said at a meeting with a member of the Russian parliament's upper house Viktor Ozerov.
The lawmaker stressed that it was important to strengthen trust and mutual understanding between the two neighboring states.
Following Putin and Abe's talks on the issue in late 2016, Tokyo and Moscow have made a step toward a resolution by agreeing to run joint economic projects on the islands.
Tokyo asked for the return of the islands of Iturup, Habomai, Kunashir and Shikotan as a condition for the peace agreement at the end of the World War II. The Soviet Union in 1956 signed a joint declaration with Japan, agreeing to consider the return of the islands if a peace treaty was concluded. However, the issue has not been resolved to this day, as Tokyo maintains that it has a claim on the islands, while Moscow believes that they became part of the Soviet Union as a result of the World War II and Russia has unquestionable jurisdiction over them.