Protestors hold a protest in Moscow on January 20, 2019, demanding to stop talks on assignation Kuril islands to Japan. (AFP)
MOSCOW, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- Nearly all inhabitants of four Russia-controlled Pacific islands claimed by both Moscow and Tokyo are against the transfer of the disputed territory to Japan, a poll showed Tuesday.
It said 96 percent of the 7,695 polled inhabitants of the four islands north of Japan's Hokkaido, called Southern Kurils in Russia and Northern Territories in Japan, supported this option.
Pollsters of the government-owned VTSIOM research center surveyed about two thirds of the total population on the islands on Feb. 11-17.
"According to the results of the research, it is possible to say authoritatively: the matter of sovereignty of the Southern Kurils is settled for their inhabitants," VTSIOM Director General Konstantin Abramov said in a statement.
Moscow and Tokyo have failed to sign a postwar peace treaty due to their rival claims to the four islands.
According to a joint declaration signed in 1956, the then Soviet Union agreed to return two of the islands under the condition that a bilateral peace treaty is signed, a proposal rejected by Japan, the pre-war owner of the islands.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed during their meeting last November in Singapore to start peace talks based on the 1956 joint declaration.
So far, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Japanese counterpart, Taro Kono, have held two rounds of such talks, one in Moscow and one in Munich, without reaching a major consensus.