Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stressed that the country has not retreated regarding negotiations with Moscow on four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan. Abe also said signing a peace treaty with Russia entails demarcating the two countries' border.
Abe was answering questions in the Diet on Tuesday about the negotiations. Japan's government maintains that the islands are an inherent part of the country's territory that were illegally occupied after World War Two.
Katsuya Okada, who's aligned with the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, noted that a 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration refers to the handover of the Habomai islets and Shikotan Island, but does not mention the islands Kunashiri and Etorofu.
He suggested that making the declaration a basis for talks would put negotiations on the latter two islands at a huge disadvantage.
Abe denied this view, and stressed that negotiations to resolve the issue have always been about the four islands. He said there is no retrogression.
Asked whether he intends to demarcate the border with only Habomai and Shikotan on the Japanese side, Abe said the government aims to sign a peace treaty after the territorial issue is resolved.
He declined to comment further, saying he did not want to discuss content of the ongoing negotiations.