The Japan Times: Abe says Putin comment reflects Russian leader’s ‘enthusiasm’ to sign peace treaty14 September 2018 | 19:59 | FOCUS News Agency
Abe made the remark during a policy debate session for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election, following Putin’s off-the-cuff proposal earlier this week that the two countries should first sign a peace treaty and thereafter keep discussing the territorial dispute over the four Russia-controlled islands off Hokkaido, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and Southern Kurils in Russia.
Putin’s proposal apparently ignored Tokyo’s long-held position that the decades-long dispute over the islands must be resolved before concluding a peace treaty and, thereby, normalizing bilateral ties.
“We need to infer from his words what ‘signal’ he was trying to send. … It is unmistakable that President Putin was conveying his enthusiasm to sign a peace treaty with us,” Abe said.
Abe also alleged that “many experts” would disagree with the criticism that has been levied against him.
After Putin’s remark — made during an economic forum in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East — domestic media outlets and some lawmakers in Japan have started criticizing Abe, saying he has yet to persuade Putin to accept Japan’s fundamental policy in the long-continuing territorial talks.
Abe has boasted personal rapport with Putin and has held a total of 22 summits with him to discuss territorial issues.
Abe has also said he will arrange meetings with Putin in November and December, saying those talks would all be particularly “important” in resolving the territorial dispute. He didn’t elaborate further.
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