Senior Russian and Japanese diplomats met in Moscow Monday to talk about ending a long-standing territorial dispute.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov and his Japanese counterpart Singuke Sugiyama met to discuss the geographic disagreement that has prevented their countries from signing a peace treaty ending World War Two.
The dispute involves a set of four tiny Pacific islands claimed by both countries.
The islands are 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.
Relations between Moscow and Tokyo have been strained for decades because of the islands.
The talks follow an April trip to Moscow by Japan's Prime Minster Shinzo Abe who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The two leaders agreed that it was "abnormal" the two countries had not signed a peace treaty in the many decades since the war's end.
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.