| VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept 3
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia, Sept 3 Japanese Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe called on Russian President Vladimir Putin
on Saturday to work together to resolve once and for all an
island row that has marred ties for more than seven decades.
Abe made the appeal in a speech delivered at a business
conference in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, with Putin
"As the leader of Japan, I am firmly convinced of the
correctness of the Japanese position, while you, Vladimir, as
the leader of Russia, are entirely confident of the correctness
of the Russian position," Abe said.
"Yet, if we continue on like this, this very same discussion
will continue for yet more decades to come. By leaving the
situation as it is, neither you nor I will be able to leave
better possibilities to future generations."
Japan claims a string of Russia-controlled western Pacific
islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and Southern
Kuriles in Russia.
The territorial row over the island chain, seized by Soviet
troops at the end of World War Two, has upset diplomatic
relations ever since, precluding a formal peace treaty between
the two countries.
Abe's father, Shintaro Abe, worked to resolve the dispute in
the 1980s as foreign minister.
The speech comes one day after he held talks with Putin and
agreed to have two more summit meetings by the end of the year
to accelerate peace treaty negotiations.
"Vladimir, in order to carve out towards the future
bilateral relations overflowing with unlimited potential, I am
resolved to putting forth all my strength to advance the
relationship between Japan and Russia, together with you," Abe
Concessions over the islands would carry risks for Putin but
could boost Japanese investment in Russia at a time when Moscow,
battered by low global oil prices and Western sanctions, badly
needs an injection of cash.
"The economies of Russia and Japan are not in rivalry. I am
fully confident that ours is a relationship in which each
complements the other in a magnificent way," Abe said.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Kim COghill)