The NHK broadcaster reported Saturday that the exchange of opinions took place at a judo tournament, which was attended by both leaders. Along with Abe and Putin only an interpreter took part in the conversation. Contents of the conversation remain unknown but the broadcaster believes that the leaders discussed the upcoming negotiations.
When Abe returned to Japan he faced criticism over his reaction to Putin’s initiative. Opponents of Abe particularly expected him to voice opposition to the Russian president’s offer as it contradicts the official position of Tokyo, which seeks resolving the South Kurils dispute before signing the peace treaty.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested signing a peace treaty between Moscow and Tokyo until the end of the year without any preconditions.
The main issue standing in the way of a treaty is an agreement concerning a group of four islands that both countries claim — Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, collectively referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan. Tokyo and Moscow are currently engaged in consultations on carrying out joint economic activities on the disputed islands.