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The first round of Russian-Japanese talks on shared economic activity in the South Kuril islands are scheduled for March 18, 2017. The talks are to be held in Tokyo.
The Russian governent is expected to consider the Japanese proposals on the subject of shared economic activity in the South Kuril Islands, according to the Russia Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reports TASS, and a number of proposals are being put together by the Russian Foreign Ministry for a shared package of proposals to be put into action. The condition however is that such proposals must comply with Russian law, says Zakharova (TASS 1)
The Kuril islands has been a subject of discussion between Japan and Russia in previous months, and also a subject of Russian attention. In early december 2016 the president of Russia made a statement that there could be visa-free travel to the Kuril islands for Japanese people who used to be resident there .
The Kuril islands has also been, in the past, a subject of some dispute between Russia and Japan.
There has traditionally been a territorial dispute betweeen Russia and Japan over these islands. The Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Japanese government in early March, reports TASS, stated that the March 18 discussions were welcome provided that Japan's position in this territorial dispute was not violated.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Japan December 15-16, 2016, and, as part of this visit, discussions were held on future shared economic activity in the southern Kuril Islands between Russia and Japan. According to TASS2, a statement was signed in which it was mentioned that it was considered that the start of such consultations could be a significant step forward towards concluding a peace treaty.
The possibilites for, but also the context of, Russia to co-operate with Japan in shared economic activity in the Kuril islands was mentioned late last year, early November (Interfax.ru Nov 1) by the speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko during a visit to Japan. During this visit, it was reportedly pointed out by her that Russia did not see jurisdiction as an issue - but rather, that it was Japan who disputed it. She said, however, reports Interfax, that Russia will never give up sovereignty over this territory, and particularly will not allow transfer of jurisdiction to Japan. She said that the possibilities for shared economic activity can take place only within the context of Russian Federation legislation.
Sources of information: TASS, Interfax.ru
by Katrina Wood