(December 18) Russian President Vladimir Putin has been meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Putin said that Russia may relax rules to allow Japanese citizens to visit the Kurile Islands occupied by Russia near the end of World War II.
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|Several of the southern Kurile Islands occupied by the Japanese were seized by the USSR in August of 1945. Japan has had an ongoing dispute with Russia since the end of the war:|
Japan claims the two southernmost large islands (Iturup and Kunashir) as part of its territory, as well as Shikotan and the Habomai islets, which has led to the ongoing Kuril Islands dispute. The disputed islands are known in Japan as the country's "Northern Territories".Out of a total of 56 islands only 8 are inhabited. Japanese inhabitants were expelled after the war.
"The issue won’t be solved if each of us just make their own case. We need to make efforts toward a breakthrough so that we don’t disappoint the next generation. We need to set aside the past and create a win-win solution for both of us."Putin also stressed the importance of a peace agreement:
"If anyone thinks we’re interested only in developing economic links and a peace deal is of secondary importance, that’s not the case. For me, the most important thing is to sign a peace agreement because that would create the conditions for long-term co-operation."