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Japan likely to propose joint-governance over Kuril Islands

Japan likely to propose joint-governance over Kuril Islands

Posted October. 18, 2016 07:27,   

Updated October. 18, 2016 07:38


The Japanese government is reviewing a measure to joint-govern a part or the entire territory of the four islands of the Kuril Ridge with Russia, the Nikkei Daily reported on Monday by citing multiple government officials from the both countries concerned. The Kuril Islands, the subject of an intense territorial dispute between Russia and Japan, currently are under the effective control of Russia.

According to the report, the Japanese government is considering putting Kunashir and Iturup islands under joint-governance after getting back Habomai islets and Shikotan islands from Russia. It has been reported that Japan will respond to the offer of economic cooperation from Russia as a gesture to reciprocate. In other words, the Japanese government has expressed its will to settle the matter by exercising partial administrative authorities over the rest two islands, once Habomai and Shikotan islands are returned as promised under the Soviet-Japan Joint Declaration in 1956.

Japan is hoping an agreement will be reached in the summit meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 15. “It appears that President Putin will make a decision on the agreement, depending on the progress made in economic cooperation between the two countries,” reported the Nikkei Daily.

A number of issues will remain untangled, however, even if the two heads of state reach an agreement on joint-governance, such as who will exercise the police and judicial authority, which law should be applied, or how much economic rights should be guaranteed. There are more sensitive issues, concerning the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. For those reasons, some estimate that it will take at least years to complete working-level negotiations and legislative process. An international precedent includes the Republic of Vanuatu, which had been under joint-governance from the U.S. and France before gaining independence in 1980.

As the victorious from the Russia-Japan War in 1905, Japan occupied the four Kuril Islands, but the islands went under the control of the Soviet Union in the wake of the Second World War.

Currently, the islands are inhabited by some 17,000 Russian people. It is expected that if the two heads of state reach an agreement on the territorial dispute, it will make a significant progress in improving national relations between Russia and Japan, in various aspects including a signing of a peace agreement.

도쿄=장원재특파원 peacechaos@donga.com