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TOKYO, September 28. /TASS/. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during debate at the plenary session of the lower house of parliament that he hopes for progress in talks with Russia on a peace treaty in a calm atmosphere with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the latter's visit in December.
"We plan to persistently hold talks with the Russian side to develop relations in various spheres in the interests of both states, including the economy, and to solve the problem of where the four islands belong [the way Japan calls Russia’s Southern Kuril Islands] and conclude a peace treaty," Abe said.
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".
In early September, Putin and Abe held a meeting in Vladivostok during the Eastern Economic Forum; they agreed to boost dialogue. In December, Putin is to visit Japan.