TOKYO, September 11 (RIA Novosti) – Japan plans to develop relations with Russia in future as this is in line with the country"s national interests, Chief Cabinet Secretary said on Thursday.
"Japan's government plans to promote relations with Russia for the benefit of the country's national interests," Yoshihide Suga told journalists after former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori met with Russian President Vladimir Putin late on Wednesday.
At the meeting, Mori conveyed to Putin a personal message from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Mori attended the Russian-Japanese forum hosted by Moscow on September 8-10.
The discussion between the Japanese and Russian top officials was the first such meeting following the escalation of the Ukraine crisis in late February.
Putin told Mori, according to Suga, that "the dialogue with Japan will continue, and it is necessary to continue it."
Japan hopes the meeting signals an improvement in bilateral relations with Russia which have deteriorated after Tokyo joined the West's sanctions against Moscow amid the Ukraine conflict.
The Japanese official declined to comment on the date of the visit of President Putin to Japan, which had been earlier scheduled for this fall. The visit of Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to Russia, which had been planned for this spring, has been also postponed.
Last month, Japan's Foreign Affairs Ministry released a list of 40 individuals and two entities affected by new sanctions against Russia over Ukraine approved by Japan's Cabinet.
Japan was the last G7 member to apply sanctions against Russia. In March, it ceased talks with Russia on the easing of visa requirements, and denied visas to Russian officials in late April, without making their names public.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has already said it considers the new sanctions unfriendly. Moscow pointed out that the new sanctions set Russia-Japan relations a few steps back, something that Tokyo should take on board.