Russia halts peace treaty talks with Japan over Ukraine

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Russia currently does not intend to continue negotiations with Japan to resolve the two countries’ territorial dispute and conclude a World War II peace treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Criticizing Japan’s sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the ministry said Moscow intends to suspend a program to allow visa-free visits by Japanese people to four Russian-held northwestern Pacific islands, known in Japan as the northern territories, and pull out of talks on joint economic activities there.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on these moves, saying that they are countermeasures against the Japanese government’s decision. The ministry explained that Russia took action in view of the fact that unilateral restrictions imposed by Japan on Russia in relation to the situation in Ukraine were apparently hostile.

On the peace treaty talks, the ministry said it is impossible for Russia to discuss the core document on bilateral relations with a country that has taken an openly hostile position and is striving to cause harm to the interests of Russia.

The ministry also said all the responsibility lies with Japan, which consciously chose an anti-Russian course instead of mutually beneficial cooperation or good-neighborly relations.

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Japanese government imposed a freeze on assets of high-ranking Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russia’s central bank.

The disputed islands were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of World War II. Tokyo and Moscow have been unable to conclude a peace treaty to formally end their wartime hostilities due to the territorial row.