Japan, Russia hold talks on security, territorial dispute

From left: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada pose for photographers prior to the two-plus-two talks in Tokyo Monday. AP pool photo


The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday, with both sides expressing hope that discussions on joint development of islands claimed by both countries might help them move closer to resolving the territorial dispute preventing them from forging a peace treaty.

The talks are the first “two-plus-two” meeting since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The one-day meeting is largely focusing on regional security, especially how best to deal with North Korea’s launches of missiles and its nuclear program.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said before the talks that its envoys would raise the issue of a plan by the U.S. and its ally South Korea to deploy a state-of-the-art missile defense system known as THAAD, which has antagonized China and Russia.

Joint efforts in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking were also on the agenda.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, while Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada sat down for talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The four ministers will also hold joint talks on international and bilateral issues.

Japan and Russia last held “two-plus-two” talks in November 2013. Meetings were shelved after that due to the crisis in Ukraine, as Japan joined sanctions against Moscow.

The Tokyo talks are not expected to lead to a breakthrough on conflicting claims to islands north of Hokkaido - Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islets - that came under Russian control after Japan’s defeat in World War II.

But the countries see more room for agreement on joint development of fisheries, tourism and other areas that might help bridge the gap.

Kishida said he intended to work in a “speedy manner” to move closer toward reaching a peace treaty, especially making progress on joint economic development.

Lavrov agreed, saying at the outset of the talks that “I believe this joint development will become an important step to create an appropriate environment for resolving a peace treaty.”

Earlier, a Japanese foreign ministry official said Tokyo would raise concerns over Russia’s installment of surface-to-ship missiles on Etorofu and other military activity elsewhere on the disputed islands, and seek an explanation from Moscow. It does not plan to push harder than that, said the official, who briefed reporters on the condition he not be named.

Japanese officials also said the talks would include work on planning a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Moscow later this year. Logistics of visits by Japanese former residents of the disputed islands will also be addressed, they said.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • 2

    Jim Poushinsky

    Wow! Japan and Russia are holding talks to resolve issues of dispute and security affecting them, independently of the US. Gives hope for the world!

  • -3


    Russia will never return those islands to Japan! They took those islands illegally and deported all the Japanese living on them. Russia is in a weak position and their allies are very limited. Because of the incident and territorial grab of Crimea more pressure and sanctions have been put on them in the last few years. Japan needs to become stronger militarily and equipped with Nuclear Weapons, that's how you get those islands back! The only country in the world to suffer nuclear attacks on it cities, yet you have none yourself to prevent such an incident from happening again? Wake up Japan you're not fully awake!

  • 2


    Russia will never return those islands to Japan!...

    Nobody knows future, even tomorrow. Japan for now decided to give Russian people a chance to reconsider.

  • -2


    Japan needs to become stronger militarily and equipped with Nuclear Weapons, that's how you get those islands back < Sports news

  • -2

    Daniel Naumoff

    Even here, military hysteria and lust for world destruction drives those behind the screens mad. How much more evil can a person with an actual power of political choice bring upon the world... Terrifying age.

  • 0


    Socrateos, You do know Russia is Arming those islands every single year putting more troops missiles and tanks on them! Even after Japan has been friendly towards Russia, their view and actions speak for themselves. Russians have also specifically said that they would never give land back or trade land. They went to all the trouble and risk to attack Ukraine and take Crimea from then, yet you think they will just hand back those islands to Japan? If you actually look at history and not fantasies you will see that Russia became a huge country by constantly taking more land from others! Not by giving it back!

  • -2

    Daniel Naumoff

    You are making Russia take all the blame for militaristic expansions by ingrates all over the world, twist history to your own twisted view to make Russia look even worse than it is, and then put in an ultimate hypocritical "Russia became a huge country by constantly taking land from others". If you want to blame someone for something, you have to find something NOT everyone did. Otherwise, this becomes a norm. Basics, will not lecture you on that. But you will not slander and propogate arms race, leading the world to destruction, either.

  • 0


    Well high level talks are always cause for hope and are forward moving, however I would say no peace treaty without the resolution of the islands issue

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