TOKYO -- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference here on Sept. 12 that the Japanese government will maintain its current approach toward Russia over the disputed Northern Territories, after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed earlier in the day that Moscow and Tokyo sign a peace treaty this year without preconditions.
"There is no change in our stance of continuing negotiations with patience under the basic policy of settling the issue of the Northern Territories and signing a peace treaty," Suga said. Putin made the remark during an Eastern Economic Forum session in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East.
According to Suga, Putin made no such remarks during the summit with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sept. 10, although the two sides exchanged opinions on peace treaty talks.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry official remained somewhat perplexed by Putin's remark. "I don't understand what he really meant by that. In any case, it's not an issue that can be settled anytime soon," said the official.
A senior Japanese government official expressed discomfort over Putin's remark, saying, "It didn't come during the summit. We are not going to respond each and every comment. He should understand Japan's position."
(Japanese original by Katsuya Takahashi, Political News Department)