February 12, 2019
Tokyo--Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday failed to deny the possibility of ending his country's territorial dispute with Russia by the return of two of the four Russian-held islands.
At a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting, Katsuya Okada of a parliamentary group led by the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan said that Japan must not agree to draw a boundary with Russia only with the return of the two northwestern Pacific islands--the Habomai group of islets and Shikotan.
In reply, Abe said there has been no change in the government's policy of resolving the territorial issue to conclude a World War II peace treaty with Russia.
"I'll refrain from making further comments on the matter," Abe added, stopping short of rejecting the two-island solution to the dispute.
Japan and Russia have agreed to speed up negotiations on the peace treaty based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration, which stipulates the return of the two islands to Japan.
Okada said the two-island solution would fall far short of the 1993 Tokyo declaration, in which the two countries agreed to sign a peace treaty after settling the territorial issue over all of the four islands.
Abe said the government has been consistent in its position that the peace talks cover the issue of which country the four islands belong to, denying that negotiations have moved backward.
Also in the Lower House committee meeting, Yasuyuki Onishi, former director-general for statistics at the labor ministry, spoke about irregularities in key surveys by his ministry.
In response to a question from Junya Ogawa of the CDPJ-led parliamentary group, Onishi said he received no special explanation when taking over the position although survey method changes had been made under his predecessor.
Ogawa asked that the predecessor, Kazuaki Sakamitsu, be summoned to the committee for unsworn testimony. Jiji Press
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