Japan, Russia agree to discuss territorial dispute in ‘quiet atmosphere’

Kyodo

The leaders of Japan and Russia agreed Saturday that the two countries will discuss a bilateral territorial dispute “in a quiet atmosphere.”

In a meeting held prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Hawaii, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed the need to solve the territorial issue before signing a peace treaty, a senior Japanese official said.

Medvedev invited Noda to Russia. The Japanese leader said he appreciates the invitation and will study it, according to the official.

The two leaders agreed to promote exchanges between the two countries’ defense authorities to ensure security in the Asia-Pacific region.

They also agreed to boost cooperation in the energy area, including oil and natural gas development projects off Sakhalin.

Noda expressed Japan’s readiness to cooperate with Russia for success of its presidency next year of a summit of the 21-member APEC in the Far East city of Vladivostok.

The territorial dispute involves the islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan, as well as the Habomai group of islets, which were seized by the Soviet Union following Japan’s surrender in World War II on Aug. 15, 1945.

The dispute has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty. The islands are known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils.

Noda and Medvedev also agreed to boost cooperation in energy development projects in Russia’s Far East.

Meanwhile, Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano and Russian Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina signed a memorandum of understanding, which is aimed at boosting bilateral cooperation for enhanced trade and investment.

Edano told reporters after his meeting with Nabiullina that responding to Russia’s needs for economic modernization with Japan’s various technologies, especially energy-saving expertise, would help create a “win-win relationship” on the economic front between the two countries.

He added the move could also become a “driving force” to resolve issues lying between the two countries in a favorable manner for Japan.

The two ministers met after APEC’s ministerial meeting the previous day.