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Tokyo wants to hold meeting between Japanese and Russian deputy FMs in Feb. 2016 — media

December 30, 2015, 9:00 UTC+3 TOKYO
The meeting will focus on discussing possible date and location of Japanese Prime Minister’s Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to Russia
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© ITAR-TASS/Yuri Smityuk

TOKYO, December 30. /TASS/. The Japanese government wants to hold a meeting between Japanese and Russian deputy foreign ministers in Tokyo in February 2016, NHK TV channel reported on Wednesday.

The channel said that Japan may be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama, and Russia — by Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov. The meeting will focus on discussing possible date and location of Japanese Prime Minister’s Shinzo Abe’s planned visit to Russia. This topic was recently raised after Abe’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Antalya. After that, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Abe plans to visit one of Russia’s regions before Putin pays an official visit to Tokyo. Peskov stressed that Putin’s visit to Japan "will be further discussed and coordinated." "It is possible that the Japanese prime minister will visit one of the Russian regions before that, and this will a topic for discussion," the Kremlin spokesman said.

NHK also noted that the sides will continue consultations on the peace treaty and exchange opinions on the crisis in Syria and situation in Ukraine.

At the beginning of December Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo will continue looking for possibilities to continue dialogue with Russia at the highest level in accordance with bilateral agreements.

At talks in April 2013 Abe and Putin agreed to speed up the process of coordinating a peace treaty and announced that they gave corresponding orders to their respective foreign ministries. After another round of negotiations at the level of deputy foreign ministers in January 2014 in Tokyo, the date of the new meeting was repeatedly postponed. Moscow said that the pause in negotiations was not due to the Russian position. Consultations resumed on October 8 when Sugiyama and Morgulov held talks in Moscow.

Territorial dispute over Kuril Islands

Russia and Japan have no peace treaty signed after World War II. Settlement of the problem inherited by Russia’s diplomacy from the Soviet Union is hampered by the years-long dispute over the four islands of Russia’s Southern Kurils — Shikotan, Khabomai, Iturup and Kunashir, which Japan calls its northern territories.

After World War II, in September 1945, Japan signed the capitulation, and in February 1946, the Kuril Islands were declared territories of the Soviet Union.

During the Cold War, Moscow did not recognize the territorial problem, but in October 1993, when Russian president Boris Yeltsin was on an official visit in Japan, the existence of the problem was confirmed officially. However, the two countries have reached no compromise over the dispute yet.

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