Japan and Russia are making arrangements for a close aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Japan in late September, sources said Tuesday.
By arranging the visit by Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Tokyo hopes to discuss Putin’s possible visit to Japan by the end of this year and push for a possible summit between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the president on that occasion.
But the United States may still express caution about a visit by Putin’s close aide to one of its allies at a time when Washington and Moscow remain at odds over developments in Ukraine.
Patrushev is a confidant of Putin and is said to be more influential than Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to one of the sources. The question of whether Abe would see him is certain to draw attention.
Patrushev is expected to stay in Japan, possibly from Sept. 22 through 24, for talks with Shotaro Yachi, who heads the secretariat of Japan’s National Security Council, the sources said. It would be his first such visit since Abe returned as prime minister in December 2012.
Yachi is expected to compare notes with Patrushev on Putin’s trip to Japan by the end of this year, which Tokyo and Moscow have agreed to realize. He may also express regret over Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Etorofu, one of the islands off Hokkaido that are disputed by the countries, in August and convey Abe’s hopes to see progress in territorial talks, according to the sources.
Abe is seeking to resolve the long-running territorial dispute with Russia over Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai group of islets, which were seized by the Soviets shortly after Japan’s surrender in World War II on Aug. 15, 1945.
Yachi visited Moscow for talks with Patrushev in March and May of 2014 and July this year.