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#16 - JRL 7004
Japan should compromise in Russia islands row: expert

MOSCOW, Jan. 4 (Kyodo) - Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi should offer concessions to Russia in their territorial dispute to make the signing of a post-World War II peace treaty possible, according to a Japan expert.

''The only way to resolve bilateral issues is for Mr. Koizumi to compromise with Russia,'' Victor Pavlyatenko, chairman of the Center for Japan Studies at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

Koizumi's predecessors Ryutaro Hashimoto and Yoshiro Mori ''had the courage to compromise, but Prime Minister Koizumi lacks it,'' he said.

The premier ''does not have his own vision in diplomacy toward Russia and he has shown a tendency during the past two years of putting the bilateral disputes on the back burner,'' he added.

Pavlyatenko made the remarks in the interview ahead of Koizumi's planned trip to Russia from Thursday.

Referring to the dispute over four small islands off Hokkaido, the northernmost main island of Japan, Pavlyatenko, 55, said that while Japan expects to regain control of them, ''Russia cannot accept such a stance.''

Soviet troops seized the islands from Japan at the end of the war. Resolving the dispute is a condition for signing a bilateral peace treaty.

''Japan should know it is likely that Moscow will refuse to continue negotiations over the territorial issue if it sticks to its policy,'' he said.

On Japanese expectations that Moscow will persuade North Korea to cooperate with the international community, Pavlyatenko said it is necessary first for Japan to act independently of U.S. policies if it expects Russia to play a key role in North Korean issues.

He also said it will be difficult for Japan and Russia to cooperate in addressing North Korean issues unless they make some concessions in their own bilateral problems.

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