Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday called for improving conditions to resolve a decades-old bilateral dispute with Russia over a group of islets and conclude a post-World War II peace treaty, including achieving greater support from both the Japanese and Russian people.

Abe's comments suggested a more time-consuming process and contrasted with Russian President Vladimir Putin's sudden proposal Wednesday, during an economic forum in Vladivostok, that Moscow and Tokyo clinch a peace deal by the end of this year "without any preconditions."

In a meeting with Japanese companies operating in the Russian Far East city, Abe said, "As 70 years have passed (since the end of the war), it is necessary to develop the understanding of Japanese and Russian people and improve the environment to settle these issues." He did not directly respond to Putin's abrupt proposal.