Japan, Russia: Inching Forward on Kuril Islands Talks
MIN READJul 12, 2017 | 21:37 GMT
The Kuril Islands have been at the center of a territorial dispute since 1947 -- a major barrier to a permanent peace treaty to formally end World War II and improve relations between Japan and Russia. The countries are inching closer to cooperation on the archipelago, and although political will for a deal is high on both sides, bigger issues have stood in the way. Japan hopes to reduce remaining friction with Russia so it can focus more on a rising China. And considering Abe's current political difficulties, a win on the Kurils would be particularly welcome. A key step in resolving the dispute would be for Japan to lift sanctions on Russia, which it has been unwilling to do because of U.S. pressure to maintain them. Russia is also pursuing Japanese investment into its flagging economy but has adopted an increasingly hardline stance.