Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Wednesday he hopes to accompany Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the Japanese leader’s visit to Russia early September and hold talks with his Russian counterpart.
Apart from holding talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Kono would be expected to attend Abe’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok on the sidelines of an economic forum.
It would be Kono’s first trip to Russia since he assumed the post earlier in August. Abe is scheduled to make a two-day trip to Russia from Sept. 6.
During his meeting with Lavrov, Kono will likely emphasize efforts to carry out joint economic activities on a chain of Russia-held, Japan-claimed islands off Hokkaido, Japanese officials said.
Abe and Putin agreed in December last year to work toward the economic cooperation, which Japan hopes could pave the way toward a resolution of the protracted row with Moscow over the islands’ sovereignty.
The islands of Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islet group — known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia — were seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s 1945 surrender in World War II.
The row has prevented the two countries from signing a postwar peace treaty.
Kono may also ask Lavrov for Russia’s cooperation in curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, according to the officials.