Lavrov to visit in fall; talks on isle row eyed

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed Monday that Moscow would dispatch its top diplomat to Japan this fall to boost political dialogue, a Japanese official said.

The leaders also confirmed that talks on an island dispute that has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty to formally end World War II would be handled within the framework of a sub-Cabinet-level dialogue.

Abe and Putin agreed on the importance of holding bilateral political discussions “at a quick tempo” based on the results of their previous talks in Moscow in April, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is likely to visit Japan after Russia hosts a Group of 20 summit in September, Kato said.

But the two leaders failed to set a time frame for the first round of sub-Cabinet talks in their meeting on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland, Kato added.

Abe and Putin also said the G-8 should continue pushing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, with the two vowing to cooperate on the issue.

The two leaders also said they would maintain cooperation on economic and energy issues, Kato said.

In April, Abe and Putin agreed to resume stalled negotiations over the sovereignty of Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan islands as well as the Habomai islet group off Hokkaido.

Tokyo has asked Moscow to first confirm that the four islands, which the former Soviet Union seized at the end of WWII, belong to Japan, noting that they are flexible in regard to when and how the islands are actually returned.

Russia, however, has been reluctant to make concessions beyond a 1956 joint declaration that says Moscow can return only two of the islands after concluding a peace treaty.

As a result of the dispute, the two countries have yet to sign a peace treaty — even after nearly 70 years since the war’s end.

Intel-gathering pact OK’d

BELFAST NORTHERN IRELAND
Kyodo

Tokyo and London agreed Monday on an intelligence-sharing pact and a framework aimed at accelerating the joint development of defense equipment, a Japanese official said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister David Cameron reached the agreements in their talks ahead of the Group of Eight summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said.

The pact enables both countries, each an ally of the United States, to share classified information, including military intelligence, Japanese officials said.

Japan has signed similar information-sharing pacts with the United States, France, Australia and NATO.

Japan reached the agreement on intelligence-sharing with Britain as part of efforts to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals overseas, the officials said.

In January, Japan struggled to gather information about an unfolding hostage crisis in Algeria in which 10 Japanese men among others died, although Japan was in touch with Britain, which has been actively gathering intelligence in Africa.

Kato said Abe and Cameron agreed on a framework of joint research on how to assess the capability of chemical protective suits based on a broad agreement on the development of defense equipment the two countries reached last year.

Japan and Britain also agreed to boost discussions about setting up a bilateral high-level dialogue framework on foreign and defense affairs with a view to a “two-plus-two” ministerial meeting.

The prime ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation in the sector of cybersecurity and ongoing negotiations over a free-trade agreement between Japan and the European Union, according to Kato.

  • Jesse Heller

    I’m not sure I really understand the dispute. Russia is a large country. Do they really need the few islands off the northeast of Japan?

    • phu

      There’s likely nothing to understand… considering most of the island disputes in that part of the world are about little more than nationalism (many are uninhabited or uninhabitable), I have a hard time assuming there’s anything behind most of them on either side except not wanting to look weak or lose face with constituents.