Japan is studying possible variants for jointly using the disputed Kuril Islands with Russia, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said on Wednesday.
Gemba was among the first Japanese politicians who openly said Japan might accept Russia’s proposal to jointly develop the four disputed islands, which Japan calls its “Northern Territories,” if the form of cooperation is in line with Japan’s official stance.
“My stance in principle remains unchanged. However, I’m not authorized to disclose at the moment the forms [of cooperation] that are in line with Japan’s stance. The issue is currently being studied in detail,” the minister said.
Gemba also said he would seek to achieve an atmosphere of mutual trust during his visit to Russia later this week.
The Kuril Islands dispute has clouded relations between Moscow and Tokyo for decades. Japan claims the four islands, Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and Habomai, based on the 1855 Treaty of Shimoda, the first Russo-Japanese agreement addressing the status of Sakhalin Island and the Kurils.