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    Japan Considering PM Abe Visit to Russia in September - Report

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    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should talk directly because there were "issues between the two nations", Reuters reported.

    The chief government spokesman said, cited by Reuters, that Japan would like to arrange a visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Russia in September.

    Russia and Japan have not yet signed a permanent peace treaty following the end of World War II due primarily to a dispute over the Kuril Islands — referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan — which remains one of the main stumbling blocks in the peace talks.

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev landed Friday on Iturup, part of the Kuril archipelago, where he visited several social and infrastructure facilities as part of his trip to Russia's Far East. The prime minister noted "obvious" changes, with new roads, houses and modern enterprises appearing on the island.

    The Japanese Foreign Ministry has called this visit "extremely regrettable". At the same time, the Japanese Foreign Ministry has called on Russia "to take constructive measures to expand the Japanese-Russian relations, including the conclusion of a peace treaty".

    In November 2018, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to speed negotiations on a long-pending peace agreement, but there has been little progress on the issue.

    Moscow and Tokyo held a number of the so-called 2+2 format talks between ministers of foreign affairs and defense. In June, the two leaders again discussed the issue during the G20 summit in Osaka. Some of the results include launching joint economic projects on the disputed islands and arranging the visits of former Japanese residents of the Kuril Islands to the graves of their relatives.

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    Russian Prime Minister Lands on Kuril Island of Iturup
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