Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Monday in Moscow in the first meeting between leaders of the two countries in 10 years.
They agreed to step up efforts to resolve a territorial dispute that has prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty ending World War II.
The dispute involves 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.
Abe and Putin agreed that it was "abnormal" the two countries had not signed a peace treaty in the many decades since the war's end.
The two sides also signed agreements in the areas of trade, investment, culture, medicine and sports.
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.
Abe also has stops planned in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which all are aimed at building business ties. In Turkey, he hopes to close a deal on exporting Japanese nuclear technology to the country.