For more than 70 years, Russia and Japan have been at loggerheads over Pacific islands on the edge of the Sea of Okhostk known as the Kuril islands. The long-standing dispute dates back to WWII when the Soviet Union seized the islands, expelling all 17,000 Japanese residents. Japan’s official position is that the islands are an inherent part of its territory and are under illegal occupation. Russia meanwhile, insists it owns the islands.
The dispute has remained a sticking point in Japan-Russia relations ever since, preventing the signing of a formal peace treaty. But less than two weeks ago on 12th September 2018, Russia’s President Vladmir Putin used an appearance at the Eastern economic forum to float the idea of signing a peace treaty with japan. “An idea has just come into my head… Let’s conclude a peace treaty before the end of this year, without any pre-conditions.”
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