Studies on joint economic activities by Japan and Russia on disputed islands off Hokkaido will likely target fish farming and the creation of a fishery off the islands, a Japanese official said Friday after the conclusion of two-day vice-ministerial talks.

Such joint fisheries activities, however, should remain within the framework of the current bilateral fisheries agreement and not affect ongoing territorial talks being held separately between Tokyo and Moscow, the official said.

Friday’s talks were held at a meeting of the subcommittee on joint economic activities on the islands under the two countries’ joint peace treaty committee. The other subcommittee is aimed at drawing demarcation lines for the islands.

The islands in dispute — Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group of islets — were occupied by Soviet troops at the end of World War II but are claimed by Japan.

Sharing the view that they should begin with issues they can solve under the existing framework, the two sides agreed to launch a high-level working group for further studies on joint fisheries, the official said.

During Friday’s session, Minoru Tanba, deputy minister for foreign affairs, led the Japanese delegation in negotiations with his Russian counterpart Grigory Karasin.

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