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‘There should be a hikiwake’: Putin describes solution for Russia-Japan island dispute in Judo terms

‘There should be a hikiwake’: Putin describes solution for Russia-Japan island dispute in Judo terms
The absence of a peace treaty after WWII remains a major issue in Russian-Japanese relations. While no solution has yet been found, Moscow would be happy to call it a draw, President Vladimir Putin said.

“Is there a decision? So far, no. But, what’s the most important, we desire to find it,” Putin told reporters on Thursday, during his end-of-year press conference.

“And it might come in very different forms. I’ve said it once – and the Japanese liked it – it should be a ‘hikiwake’, a draw, if we can speak in Judo terms.”

The Russian president is an avid practitioner of the Japanese martial art of judo. A ‘hikiwake’, or draw, is one possible outcome of a competitive judo bout in which the referees decide that neither of the combatants has achieved victory.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union forced Japan to give back the Kuril Islands, which it had acquired in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905.

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Japan continues to claim four of the islands, and the issue has prevented a final peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo to this day. While Tokyo regards the islands as its ‘Northern Territories’, Moscow insists they are an integral part of Russia. Given the polar positions of the two countries on the matter, multiple attempts in talks on the Kuril issue – and the peace treaty – have yielded no results.

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