Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia this week for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin and Tokyo said today, as the two sides look to make headway on a decades-old territorial dispute. The Kremlin said talks set for Thursday will focus on “the state and prospects for development of Russo-Japanese cooperation in the political, trade and economic, and humanitarian spheres.”
The meeting follows on from Putin’s first visit to Japan in 11 years last December, when the two leaders failed to resolve a disagreement over an island chain that has prevented their nations signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II. The Soviet Union seized islands off Japan’s northern coast in 1945 in the closing days of the war.
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Known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, they have been a thorn in relations ever since. In Tokyo, Japan’s top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga confirmed Abe’s visit to Russia.
North Korea will also likely be on the agenda of the talks “given the current situation,” he said, referring to soaring tensions surrounding the hermit state’s nuclear and missile programmes. Both Russia and Japan have been part of a more-than- decade long multilateral effort to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.
Suga said that Abe will also go on to Britain after his talks in Russia. He did not provide exact dates for the London leg of the trip, saying only that the entire overseas visit will last until Sunday. “Prime Minister Abe will make his first visit to Britain since Prime Minister (Theresa) May took office,” Suga said.
“He plans to exchange views over Britain’s exit from the EU as well as confirm close cooperation with Britain ahead of the G7 summit in late May,” Suga added.