Putin, Japan’s Abe discuss economy on disputed islands
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday discussed joint economic projects on disputed islands which could pave the way for the countries to finally sign a peace treaty ending World War II.
Japan and Russia both claim four islands north of Japan’s island of Hokkaido that came under Russian control at the end of the war. Thursday’s meeting in Moscow was the third between the leaders in the past seven months; Putin made a state visit to Japan in December and Abe met Putin in Russia’s Far East in September.
The recent meetings are widely regarded as a sign that both Moscow and Tokyo are eager to settle the dispute over the Kuril islands and sign a peace treaty that the Soviet Union and Japan never managed to negotiate.
Putin and Abe told reporters after the talks at the Kremlin that a group of Japanese officials and businessmen would travel to the Kurils next month to examine opportunities for Japanese investment.
Abe told reporters that he read out to Putin during his visit in December letters from Japanese people who grew up in the Kurils and wanted to visit the graves of their loved ones. Putin said he would send a plane to Japan to take those who want to visit the graves, a move that he said he hopes “will contribute to creating an atmosphere of trust and understanding between our nations.”