Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday reportedly denied that Moscow is obligated by a 1956 joint declaration with Japan to return two of the four disputed Kuril Islands seized by Soviet troops at the close of World War II. On March 22, the Japanese Kyodo news agency reported that Russia’s Foreign Ministry had acknowledged the obligation to return the two islands. The ministry was said to have conveyed that interpretation of the 1956 declaration in documents sent by the ministry to the Russian Duma. (Kyodo, March 22, 24)
The diplomatic maneuvering over the islands comes on the eve of a series of high-level Japanese-Russian meetings at which the territorial issue will be high on the agenda. A joint Japanese-Russian subcommission is to convene tomorrow in Tokyo for further negotiations on a peace treaty formally ending World War II for the two countries. Progress on the territorial dispute is a key to those talks. Then, on April 11-13, President Boris Yeltsin is to travel to Japan for a second informal summit with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. There too, the peace treaty and the territorial issue will be at the center of discussions.
Crimean Tatars Clash with Police.