Japan, Russia to hold talks on territorial row this week in Tokyo



Senior Japanese and Russian officials will hold talks on Wednesday in Tokyo on a postwar peace treaty, which the two countries have not signed due to a territorial row over Russian-held, Japanese-claimed islands, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida says.

The meeting will be the second of its kind, after one in Moscow last October, and follows an agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in May to adopt a “new approach” in resolving the peace treaty issue.

“I hope for forward-looking and fruitful discussions” at the upcoming talks between Chikahito Harada, the Japanese government representative and ambassador in charge of Japan-Russia relations, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov, Kishida said.

Japan seeks to resolve the issue of the ownership of the isles, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia, before concluding a peace treaty with Russia. But it is at odds with Moscow, which says it took the islets legitimately as the result of World War II.

The officials’ meeting is also expected to lay the groundwork for a proposed Abe-Putin meeting in Vladivostok in September.

Sergey Naryshkin, Putin’s close aide who is currently visiting Tokyo, said the invitation to an economic forum in Vladivostok was again conveyed to Abe when they met last Thursday.

Naryshkin, chairman of the State Duma—the lower house of Russia’s parliament—also said at a meeting organized by a private group that Putin is expected to visit Japan by the end of this year.

Putin’s visit, tentatively scheduled for 2014, was postponed after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula region in March 2014, souring relations with Western countries and Japan.

“The next leaders’ meeting in Vladivostok and the president’s official visit to Japan will be important events” to develop bilateral relations, Naryshkin said, adding that fostering mutual trust would be “an important factor for the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.”