News World Abe, Putin to revive Japan–Russia talks

Abe, Putin to revive Japan–Russia talks

Vladimir Putin Shinzo Abe
Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin shake hands at the official reception in Nagato. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty
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Japan and Russia have held talks on ending a dispute that has divided their countries for 70 years.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed at a leaders’ summit to revive security talks and start discussing economic cooperation on disputed islands.

Those islands are at the core of a row that has kept them from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War Two.

Kuriles islands
The windswept islands known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, but in Japan as the Northern Territories. Photo: Russia Insider

At the meeting on Thursday the pair also talked about Syria, with Abe conveying to Putin his concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and Putin offering to work with other countries to settle the Syrian problem, a Japanese government spokesman said.

The talks come as Russia faces Western criticism over the destruction of eastern Aleppo in Syria, where Russia is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“On Syria, Prime Minister Abe expressed strong concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, and stressed the importance of returning to the halt of hostile conduct and implementing humanitarian aid,” Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami said after a three-hour meeting in southwest Japan.

“President Putin stated he is supporting President Assad who is an elected leader. He also said he is ready to talk to countries in the region and the United States to work toward the resolution,” Nogami said.

Abe and Putin are seeking progress in a two-day summit on their dispute over the four windswept isles in the western Pacific controlled by Russia but also claimed by Japan.

They will meet again in Tokyo on Friday.

“We were able to hold the summit in a very good atmosphere,” Abe told reporters after the meeting.

Japan Russia disputed islands
The islands at the heart of a 70 year old tussle between Russia and Japan.

“I think we were able to have frank and deep discussions about free travel by former island residents, economic activities on the four islands under a special system of both countries, and the peace treaty issue.”

The islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, were seized by Soviet forces in the final days of World War Two and their 17,000 Japanese residents were forced to flee.

The islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, were seized by Soviet forces in the final days of World War Two and their 17,000 Japanese residents were forced to flee.

For a fuller history of the dispute, click here.

– Kiyoshi Takenaka and Katya Golubkova

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