Abe and Putin meet, talk trade and peace treaty

Trade representatives from Japan and Russia are gathering this week in the Russian port city of Vladivostok as part of an annual economic forum. But a meeting there between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin has garnered regional media attention.

Both leaders characterized cooperation between their countries as growing stronger.

“Relations between the two countries have been smoothly developing since the Japan-Russia summit two years ago in Nagato,” said Abe. Putin said bilateral ties between the countries are “greatly improving” (The Japan Times).

Russia and Japan have not signed a peace treaty since World War II due to a lingering territorial dispute over parts of a group of Pacific islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Kurils. The island chain stretches from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The islands in dispute were annexed by the Soviet Union at the close of World War II.

Talks between Abe and Putin are “moving toward a peace treaty” (Reuters) and resolution of the islands disagreement.

Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet at the forum on Wednesday to discuss bilateral cooperation for Xi’s “One Belt, One Road” cross-border infrastructure initiative (The Japan Times).

More reporting on this topic

• What issues stand in the way of Japan and Russia settling their Kuril Islands dispute?

• What, if any, impact will a Japan-Russia peace treaty have on Japan’s regional alliances?

• How are existing political, military and economic alliances in East Asia likely to evolve in the near future?

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