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Japan to reject Russian proposal on territorial row.

TOKYO, Jan. 7 Kyodo Japan plans to reject Russia's counterproposal that the two countries should work out a border demarcation treaty after concluding a peace pact by 2000, government sources said Thursday. Japan plans to reject the proposal because it would likely postpone the settlement of the bilateral territorial dispute over Russian-held islands off Japan's main island of Hokkaido, the sources said. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in summit talks with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi in Moscow in early November, reportedly proposed that the two countries conclude by 2000 a ''peace, friendship and cooperation'' treaty stipulating their intent to solve the territorial dispute. He proposed working out a separate treaty later settling the demarcation issue. A joint declaration issued after the summit mentioned 2000 as the target year for the conclusion of a peace treaty. The president also reportedly called for joint economic activities on the disputed islands under special legislation that would not touch on sovereignty of the territories. During their talks in Moscow, Obuchi did not immediately answer Yeltsin's proposal. Yeltsin presented the proposal in response to a proposal made in April last year by then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. The Hashimoto proposal reportedly involves giving Moscow temporary administrative rights over the islands after the two countries draw a demarcation line between Etorofu, the most northerly of the islands, and Russia's Uruppu Island -- effectively recognizing Japan's sovereignty over them. The two countries have kept the contents of both proposals secret. A senior Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Japan will stick to Hashimoto's proposal. Obuchi is slated to officially respond to the Russian proposal when Yeltsin visits Japan later this year. Tokyo thinks the proposal does not contain any information concerning when or where to draw the border, the sources said. A number of high-ranking Russian officials made remarks after the November summit saying it would be difficult to resolve the territorial dispute before 2000, the sources said. Japan and Russia restored bilateral ties in 1956, but have yet to conclude a peace treaty because of the territorial dispute. The disputed islands -- Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets -- were captured by Soviet troops at the end of World War II.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Jan 11, 1999
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