Japan's new prime minister has called on Putin to resolve the island dispute

Newly-elected Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that he wanted to resolve their territorial dispute and sign a peace agreement that would formally end World War II.

Japan's new prime minister has called on Putin to resolve the island dispute

Suga took office two weeks ago, being replaced’ by Shinzo Abe, who had retired due to ill health. Abe, during his nearly eight years in power spent much time and effort improving relations with Russia in the hope of resolving the regional dispute, but little progress was’ made.

The two countries claim a group of islands occupied by the former Soviet Union in the last days of the war, preventing them from signing a peace treaty. The islands called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Krill in Russia, are off the northern coast of Hokkaido, Japan.

"I told Putin that I hope that Japan-Russia relations will develop comprehensively, including the signing of a peace agreement," he said. I said we should not leave the regional issue to the next generation and end it ourselves. "I will work with President Putin to resolve this issue."

Suga said he was confident that he and Putin could have a positive relationship in which they could openly exchange views.

Putin said he hoped the two countries would continue to hold talks to resolve any current issues.

Resolving the island's dispute with Russia was one of Abe's diplomatic goals. They launched joint economic projects on the disputed islands under Russian rule. However, Russia has stepped up its military presence on the islands, and has held military exercises just hours before Tuesday's talks.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan had protested to Russia over the exercise, saying it was "unacceptable".

Suga has spoken by phone with world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.


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