Japanese FM Kishida to call on Vladimir Putin

Japanese FM Kishida to call on Vladimir Putin

Japan says the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russian Federation, are its inherent territory, while Russian Federation maintains it legitimately took them as the result of World War II. Tokyo is hopeful that in the foreseeable future Japan and Russian Federation will ease visa norms, Japanese Foreign Ministry's deputy press secretary Masato Otaka told reporters on Saturday.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 3, 2016. The meeting comes just weeks before Vladimir Putin visits Japan. The Japanese prime minister's two visits to Russian Federation this year however have led many to believe that both sides are moving toward a breakthrough. In the meeting, Putin gave a positive assessment of recent developments in bilateral ties.

Putin said at the start of his meeting with Kishida that Russian Federation is working on Abe's proposals to expand ties between the two countries, but he made no mention of the Kuril islands.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today it would be hard to close the gap in positions over a peace treaty and territorial dispute with Japan, two weeks before President Vladimir Putin visits.

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Russian Federation and Japan have not signed a peace treaty formalizing the end of World War II due to a territory row over four small islands in the Pacific - the Southern Kurils, as Russian Federation calls them, and what the Japanese call the Northern Territories.

He said he wanted "energetic talks" to "finally resolve the sovereignty of the four islands in a mutually acceptable form and conclude a peace treaty".

Lavrov said he told Kishida that deployment of USA anti-missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region is a threat. "Japan needs to unconditionally recognize the outcome of World War II, including the ownership of the Southern Kurils" and that such recognition will be the "starting point of the serious discussion of the peace treaty issue", Morgulov said.

Lavrov added that bilateral work on the issue will continue and be reported to the two leaders who will meet on December 15 and 16 in Japan. Both Russia and Japan are hoping to make progress on a decades-long territorial dispute.

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