Japan calls for isles compromises with Russia
TOKYO - Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, in a published interview, called for mutual compromises with Russia to end a territorial dispute over the Russian-held Kuril isles.
"If the two countries are to reach an agreement, that would mean both would have to compromise something. There will not be an agreement unless compromises are made," Machimura told the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper.
He emphasized the importance of open minded negotiations over the dispute, saying "nothing will be born if we only act on the basis of principles".
The dispute over four islands just off the coast of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido has prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II hostilities between them.
Japanese politicians and activists have demanded that Russia return the islands, which were captured by Soviet troops at the end of the war.
Japan has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Japan in a bid to help the two nations make progress towards signing a peace treaty.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Putin met on the sidelines of commemorations for the end of World War II in Moscow earlier this month and agreed that plans for such a visit were making steady progress.