Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono says he hopes to conclude peace treaty talks with Russia as soon as possible but he also stresses the need to resolve the matter in a manner acceptable to both sides.
Kono made the comments in a speech in Sapporo, Hokkaido on Saturday afternoon. He and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ended their 3rd meeting in Moscow on Friday night without narrowing the gap on the issue of four Russian-controlled islands off Hokkaido.
Kono said the negotiations must be concluded by taking into consideration various combinations of ideas that are acceptable for both countries. He said this is because the two countries will not be able to ratify a treaty unless their respective parliaments approve it.
He added that he hopes to conclude the negotiations soon, as the former residents of the islands are getting old.
The Japanese government maintains that the four islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.