Russia, Japan to renew talks on WWII peace treaty at G8 summit

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said May 12 that President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso will discuss a possible peace treaty between the two nations at a G8 summit in Italy in July. Putin spoke at a news conference following talks with Japanese officials during his visit to Japan.

A dispute over the control of an island chain, known as the Kuril Islands in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, has led to the absence of a formal peace treaty ending World War II hostilities between Japan and Russia. Putin said that Russia and Japan would explore every option for resolving the dispute. Putin also said that he hopes to resolve the dispute by strengthening economic ties between the two countries.

In 2007, then-Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said that no formal peace treaty would be concluded between Japan and Russia until Russia relinquishes control of the islands it has occupied since the end of World War II. Possession of the island chain was first transferred from Russia to Japan in 1855 under a friendship treaty. It remained under Japanese control until Russian troops seized the islands during the last days of World War II, an act in violation of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, signed by both nations on April 13, 1941. Abe and Putin discussed the return of the islands during an economic summit in 2005, but no agreement was reached. (Jurist, May 12)

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