TOKYO – The schedule for a visit to Japan by Russian President Vladimir Putin could be decided when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets Putin later this week, Japan's top government spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday.
Abe is expected to meet Putin on the sidelines of a Sept. 2-3 Eastern Economic Forum business conference in the port city of Vladivostok. He has traveled to Russia several times and met Putin since taking office in December 2012 but the Russian leader has not been to Japan during that time.
The schedule for Putin's visit "has not been decided. The leaders will meet and in that context, the schedule will probably be firmed up", Suga said.
Japan has been eyeing closer ties with Russia to counter China's growing clout and from interest in its natural energy resources, but earlier attempts to schedule a visit by Putin were derailed by Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, which prompted Tokyo to join other Western countries including the United States in imposing sanctions on Moscow.
A disagreement about four inadequately populated islands in the Pacific, known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, has kept the nations from marking a peace settlement finishing World War Two.
The islands were seized by the Soviet Union after it pronounced war on Japan on August 8, 1945, days before Japan surrendered. They are close rich angling grounds and near oil and gas creation areas of Russia.
Suga additionally said a purported "new approach" to Japan-Russia relations was to concentrate on monetary issues. He evaded an inquiry in the matter of whether Japan could acknowledge a trade off in which each of the four islands were not came back to Japan, saying just that the guestion of the four islands must be "clarified".
Abe last met Putin at the Russian president's Black Sea living arrangement in Sochi and has said he would like to welcome him to his home voting public of Yamaguchi prefecture in southern Japan amid a visit that could happen before the current year's over.
Suga likewise said nothing had been chosen yet around a meeting amongst Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G20) summit in China on Sept. 4-5.