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Time for Abe to come clean on territorial dispute with Russia

Japan's leader should explain why he quietly shelved decades-old demands

| Japan
Putin, left, meets Abe on June 28 in Osaka: conspicuously absent from the summit was any progress on the territorial issues.   © Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 29 confirmed that the Japanese government has effectively shelved plans to secure the return of the Russian-held Southern Kurils, which Tokyo claims as its Northern Territories.

However, Abe is being less than honest about his intentions. Instead of owning up the policy shift, the Abe administration persists with the fiction that it is still actively pursuing the return of these disputed islands. The government should set aside its inclination to secrecy, clearly state its aims to the Japanese public and welcome the scrutiny that is the core of parliamentary democracy.

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