Following the April agreement between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin to pursue talks on the disputed islands off Hokkaido, respective governments’ deputy foreign ministers are set to meet this Monday in Moscow. As of today, the two countries still have not signed a formal peace agreement since the end of World War II. Other bilateral issues will also be included on the table when the representatives of Japan and Russia meet.
In hopes of finding a common page and agreeable decision for both sides, Deputy Foreign Ministers Shinsuke Sugiyama and Igor Morgulov have been commissioned to “restart” talks with regard to the four Kuril Islands – Habomai, Kunashiri, Shikotan, and Etorofu – off Hokkaido. Japan also aims to bolster ties with Russia through culture, economy, and environment, which the former hopes will encourage the latter to set things aright. One example would be the development of eastern Siberia, which Japan eyes to utilize through bilateral agreements. Even defense exchanges with Russia are being considered by Japan.
A new panel was also created by the Japanese Government to further initiate better ties. The panel is composed of senior officials from different government agencies including agriculture, finance, foreign, and industry. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko serves as the head of the Japanese panel, which met its Russian counterpart met at the capital on Thursday. Such was both panels’ first meeting, where they aimed to discuss issues regarding agriculture, medical services, and urban environment.