Tokyo and Moscow are coordinating the date of a meeting between the deputy foreign ministers of the two countries devoted to the disputed Kuril islands, which is scheduled to take place in August, Hiroshi Tajima, a minister of the Japanese Embassy in Moscow, told Sputnik.
On July 7, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. According to the Kyodo news agency, the leaders agreed to arrange a meeting of the states’ deputy foreign ministers in August for specifying the joint economic activity on the Southern Kuril islands.
“The decision that such a meeting will be held has been taken. However, there is uncertainty regarding the dates. Deputy Foreign Minister [Takeo] Akiba will head the Japanese delegation at the August meeting,” Tajima said, adding that the date is being coordinated.
The Russian-Japanese relations have long been complicated by the fact that the two nations have never signed a permanent peace treaty after World War II ended. This was due to a disagreement over a group of four islands claimed by both countries: Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai.
On December 15-16, 2016, Putin paid a two-day working visit to Japan and held meeting with Abe. The two sides discussed the possibility of joint economic activity on the disputed islands. In February, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at the first panel meeting of the interdepartmental council on joint economic activities with Russia that the areas of economic cooperation would include fishing, tourism, health care and ecology.
In late April, Putin and Abe reached an agreement to send to the Kuril islands a joint group of government officials and business representatives in order to study the prospects of cooperation there.
In late June, the Japanese delegation comprising almost 70 people, including the representatives of 32 private companies, state and municipal structures visited the Southern Kurils. The group visited 64 objects, including a salmon fertilizing facility, a hotel, hospitals and a geothermal power station.