"I want to move forward the talks on signing a [peace] treaty while I am still in office," he told the national television which is telecasting the vote counting after Sunday’s elections to the upper parliament house.
Earlier, Abe said he did not plan to run for another term as the leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, thus giving to understand that his office term as prime minister expired in 2021. Japan’s prime minister is the leader of a ruling party.
Since the mid-20th century, Russia and Japan have been negotiating a peace treaty after World War II. The main stumbling block to this is the issue of the ownership of the southern Kuril Islands. After the end of World War II, all Kuril Islands were incorporated into the Soviet Union. However, Japan challenged the ownership of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan islands and a number of uninhibited islands of the Lesser Kuril Ridge called the Habomai Islands in Japan.
In 1956, the Soviet Union and Japan signed a joint declaration on ceasing the state of war. The two countries resumed diplomatic and other relations, however no peace treaty has been signed until now. The Soviet Union committed to paper in the declaration its readiness to hand over Shikotan and Habomai to Japan as a gesture of good will after the peace treaty is ultimately signed. The declaration was ratified by the two countries’ parliaments on December 8, 1956.
On June 29, 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Groups of Twenty summit in Osaka. Abe told journalists after the talks that the sides had agreed to organize another visit by former residents of the southern Kuril Islands to burials of their ancestors on these islands in August-September. The Japanese prime minister also said he and the Russian leaders had reiterated their commitment to continue the peace treaty talks and implementation of joint economic projects on the southern Kuril Islands.