Russia, Japan to form working group for cooperation on disputed islands

Russia and Japan have agreed to put together a working group on implementing joint projects on disputed Pacific islands, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

It said in a statement that the agreement was reached earlier in the day in Tokyo at the fifth round of Russian-Japanese consultations led by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and his Japanese counterpart Takeo Mori.

Moscow and Tokyo have failed to sign a postwar peace treaty due to their rival claims to four Pacific islands, called Southern Kuril Islands in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan, the pre-war owner.

Russia and Japan are currently holding consultations on joint economic activities on the islands in five areas, namely aquaculture, greenhouses, tourism, wind energy, and waste recycling. The parties view the cooperation as a step towards a peace treaty.

The issue of creating a regime for free movement between the islands and Japan’s Hokkaido island was also discussed at Monday’s meeting, the ministry’s statement said.