21 Mar, 2022 18:55
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Russia scraps WW2 peace talks with Japan
Moscow has broken off talks to formally end its WWII conflict with Tokyo, citing Japanese sanctions against Russia
An aerial view of South Kuril Islands and coastline in Kamchatka region, Russia. © Natalia Zakharova / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Russia has ended an arrangement dating back to 1991 that allowed Japanese citizens to visit the Kuril Islands without a visa, and has broken off talks with Japan on formally ending the Second World War, citing Tokyo’s “openly unfriendly” conduct in sanctioning Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine.
Due to the what it called the “obvious unfriendly nature of the unilateral restrictions imposed by Japan against Russia in connection with the situation in Ukraine,” the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that it would “terminate” the visa-free regime and “does not intend to continue negotiations with Japan on a peace agreement.”
Russia also withdrew from talks on establishing joint economic activities with Japan in the Southern Kuril Islands, and will block Tokyo’s partner status in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization.
“All responsibility for the damage to Japan’s bilateral cooperation and interests lies with official Tokyo, which deliberately opted for an anti-Russian course instead of developing mutually beneficial cooperation and good neighborliness,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Japan joined the US-NATO economic embargo against Russia after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine last month. On March 16, it also revoked Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status.
Moscow and Tokyo never formally concluded a peace treaty after the Second World War, due to the dispute over the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain, which Japan calls its “Northern Territories.”
Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai were administered by Japan between 1855 and 1945, when the Soviet Union took possession of them due to Tokyo’s unconditional surrender to the Allies.
Russia and Japan signed a visa-free agreement for Japanese travel to the four islands in 1991, and, in 1999, added a protocol to facilitate the visits of former Japanese residents of the islands.
Talks between Moscow and Tokyo on resolving the territorial dispute resumed in 2018, but Japan has maintained that its right to the four islands is not negotiable.