TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has postponed a visit to Russia planned for next month citing President Vladimir Putin's health problems, Japanese media reported on Friday.
Kyodo and Jiji news agencies reported that Noda talked about the delay while meeting municipal officials during his trip to the northern island of Hokkaido.
"It's about (President Putin's) health problem. This is not something that can easily be made public," Jiji cited one of the officials as saying, quoting Noda.
The question of Putin's condition has been a subject of media speculation since he was seen limping at an Asia-Pacific summit in the Russian port of Vladivostok in September.
Three Russian government sources told Reuters late in October that Putin, who began a six-year term in May and turned 60 last month, was suffering from back trouble, but the Kremlin has dismissed talk that he had a serious back problem.
Putin's health troubles stem from a recent bout of judo, according to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.
"He loves judo. He lifted a guy, threw him, and twisted his spine," Lukashenko told Reuters this week.
Several foreign trips which had been expected in November but were never officially announced by the Kremlin have not taken place. Putin is expected to make trips to Turkey and Turkmenistan next week.
Likely to have been on the agenda in talks between Russian and Japanese officials are energy cooperation and a decades-old dispute over islands north of Hokkaido, known as Kurile in Russia and referred to as the Northern Territories in Japan.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by Tomasz Janowski; Editing by Nick Macfie)