• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday criticized the visit by Russia’s prime minister to one of the islands disputed by Tokyo and Moscow, but added he “will continue dialogue” with President Vladimir Putin to resolve the issue.

“It is extremely regrettable . . . hurting the feelings of Japanese people,” Abe told a session of the House of Councilors’ Budget Committee, after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Etorofu Island, called Iturup in Russia, on Saturday despite Japan’s calls for him not to do so.

Abe also said Japan will keep seeking to sign a peace treaty with Russia by overcoming the issue of the Northern Territories, known also as the Southern Kurils. He repeatedly called for efforts to promote negotiations.

The two countries have been exploring the possibility of Putin visiting Japan before the end of the year.

The islands were seized by Soviet forces following Japan’s surrender in World War II in 1945. The ensuing territorial dispute has prevented the two nations from concluding a postwar peace treaty.

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