Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is arriving in Moscow for a planned summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 22. Abe and Putin have been meeting regularly as both Moscow and Tokyo continue to express hope for a long-awaited peace treaty to formally end the WWII, resolving among other problems the territorial issue of the four Pacific islands, called Southern Kurils in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan.
Japanese officials have been recently expressing optimism for the territorial issue to be soon resolved at least partially. That is the Shikotan Island and the uninhabited Habomai islets off the northern cost of Hokkaido will be handed over to Japan in accordance with the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 that formally ended the state of war and established trading and diplomatic relations.
Tokyo has been for decades demanding Moscow return all the four Pacific islands including Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai Islands as a prerequisite of a peace treaty. Russian officials including Putin have previously indicated the 1956 agreement is still valid and the “two island solution” could be the basis of a future peace treaty.