Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on expanding trade ties and an effort to resolve a territory dispute dating back to World War II.
Abe and Putin are expected to discuss Japanese import of Russian natural gas when they meet Monday, as well as seek to lay the groundwork for further trade and diplomatic relations. The two nations never signed a peace treaty formally ending hostilities between them at the conclusion of World War II.
That leaves at issue the fate of a set of islands, known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Kurils, which Russia seized in the final days of the war in 1945.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, when he was president, infuriated Japan in 2010 when he became the first Russian president ever to visit the islands.
While the territorial issue is not expected to be resolved during this visit, it could be an important indicator of the likelihood of establishing a formal peace agreement in the near future.
Abe also has stops planned in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all aimed at building business ties. In Turkey, he hopes to close a deal on exporting Japanese nuclear technology to the country.