Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expects that his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled to take place on January 22, will be frank and will allow the two countries to advance peace treaty negotiations, as Abe himself said before departing for Moscow, Trend reports referring to TASS.

"I would like to hold thorough and frank talks with President Putin and advance peace treaty negotiations as much as possible," the Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.

After his visit to Moscow, the Japanese prime minister will head to Davos, Switzerland, to take part in the 2019 World Economic Forum.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Monday that Tokyo "will continue to hold patient negotiations to make a peace treaty once the territorial issue is resolved." At the same time, he declined to comment on Kyodo's reports that Abe was considering signing a peace treaty with Russia on condition that Moscow provided guarantees that Shikotan Island and a group of uninhibited small islands Japan calls Habomai would be handed over to Tokyo.

Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The Kuril Islands issue remains the sticking point since after WWII the islands were handed over to the Soviet Union while Japan laid claims to the four southern islands. In 1956, the two countries signed a joint declaration on ending the state of war and restoring diplomatic and all other relations, however, a peace treaty has still not been reached. Moscow has stated many times that Russia's sovereignty over the islands cannot be called into question.

On November 14, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Singapore and agreed that the two countries would speed up peace treaty talks based on the 1956 declaration.

The Joint Declaration said that the Soviet government was ready to hand Shikotan Island and a group of small islands over to Japan, adding that Tokyo would get actual control of the islands after a peace treaty was signed. However, after Japan and the United States had signed the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security in 1960, the Soviet Union withdrew its obligation to hand over the islands. A Soviet government's memorandum dated January 27, 1960, said that those islands would only be handed over to Japan if all foreign troops were pulled out of the country.

Source: TREND News Agency