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Japan, Russia finish 2-day talks on joint projects

Japan and Russia are pushing ahead with talks on joint economic activities on islands Japan calls the Northern Territories, ahead of a bilateral summit next month.


Russia controls the four islands. Japan claims them.


The Japanese government maintains they are an inherent part of Japan’s territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.


On Monday and Tuesday, officials from the countries’ foreign ministries held talks on the issue in Moscow.


On Monday, they discussed each other’s legal positions to promote the five planned joint projects. The economic projects include sightseeing tours and waste reduction measures.


On Tuesday, higher-level talks were held on the creation of visa-free travel between Japan’s northern prefecture of Hokkaido and the four islands and Russia’s Sakhalin region. The measure is deemed essential for promoting joint economic activities.


Kengo Otsuka, who heads the Foreign Ministry’s Division for Japan-Russia Joint Economic Activities, told reporters that both sides will continue efforts to reach an agreement that doesn’t harm the legal positions of either country.


He stressed that more talks will be held ahead of the Group of 20 summit in Osaka next month. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to meet on the sidelines.

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