Japan, Russia agree to discuss territorial dispute in ‘quiet atmosphere’

The leaders of Japan and Russia agreed Saturday that the two countries will discuss a bilateral territorial dispute "in a quiet atmosphere."

In a meeting held prior to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Hawaii, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reaffirmed the need to solve the territorial issue before signing a peace treaty, a senior Japanese official said.

Medvedev invited Noda to Russia. The Japanese leader said he appreciates the invitation and will study it, according to the official.

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Japan, Russia agree to deal calmly with disputed islands issue

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, agreed Wednesday that Tokyo and Moscow will address their territorial dispute off Hokkaido "in a calm atmosphere," a Foreign Ministry official said.

Genba and Lavrov were meeting for the first time in New York on the sidelines of the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly. Genba, the nation’s youngest prime minister in the postwar era, assumed his post Sept. 2.

Genba and Lavrov also agreed to cooperate in urging North Korea to take concrete steps toward denuclearization, the official said.

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Russia may deploy rockets on disputed islands

Russia will send new air defense systems, possibly including S-400 rockets, to islands at the center of a territorial dispute with Japan, RIA news reported on Tuesday, citing a General Staff source.

Russia, which occupied the four islands off Japan at the end of World War Two, has pressed its claim to the territory with plans to boost investment and its military presence.

"The division will be given a brigade of air defense troops," RIA quoted the General Staff source as saying.

The air defense systems will consist of short and long-range weapons, possibly including the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, he said.

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Russian military increases activity near disputed isles

Japan is closely monitoring stepped-up activity by Russia’s military near disputed islands, Japan’s chief spokesman said Thursday after Moscow said it would deploy new weapons to the area.

Relations between Japan and Russia have been clouded by a long-running dispute over the four islands, called the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

The former Soviet Union occupied the islands off northern Japan at the end of World War Two and the row has weighed on bilateral ties since, preventing the two countries from signing a formal peace treaty despite growing economic ties.

Japan is also embroiled in a territorial dispute with China and the government’s handling of the spats has been heavily criticized at home, adding to a fall in Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s support ratings.

"Russian military activity near our country is increasing and we will continue to monitor this closely with interest," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

"We would like to deal with this based on the stance that the four islands are Japan’s territory and that we want to resolve the territorial issue and sign a peace treaty in accordance with existing agreements and statements."

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