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TOKYO, January 4. /TASS/. Dialogue at the top level with Russia needs to be continued in order to solve bilateral problems, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday at a news conference timed to the opening of a parliament session.
"Without dialogue at the top level, it’s impossible to solve the problem of the Northern Territories (the way Japan calls Russia’s South Kuril Islands)," Abe said.
Speaking on the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan, Abe said it "should take place at a proper time."
On November 16, during a G20 summit in Antalya, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Japanese premier plans to visit a Russian region prior to the Russian president’s visit to Tokyo. Peskov underscored that Putin’s visit to Japan "will still be discussed."
The problem of the southern Kuril Islands is the key obstacle to a complete normalization of the Russian-Japanese ties and the signing of a peace treaty. After the Second World War, all Kuril Islands were made part of the Soviet Union. But Japan does not agree that the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and the Habomai island group belong to Russia. Tokyo calls the islands "Northern Territories".