Senior officials of Japan and Russia met Saturday for the first talks on possible joint economic development of islands off Hokkaido controlled by Moscow but claimed by Tokyo, in an effort to resolve the long-standing row surrounding the territory.
The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo, with both sides expressing hope that discussions on joint development of islands claimed by both countries might help them move closer to resolving the territorial dispute preventing them from forging a peace treaty.
The talks are the first "two-plus-two" meeting since Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
The one-day meeting is largely focusing on regional security, especially how best to deal with North Korea's launches of missiles and its nuclear program.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said before the talks that its envoys would raise the issue of a plan by the U.S. and its ally South Korea to deploy a state-of-the-art missile defense system known as THAAD, which has antagonized China and Russia.
Joint efforts in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking were also on the agenda.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida was meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, while Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada sat down for talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.The four ministers will also hold joint talks on international and bilateral issues.
Japan and Russia last held "two-plus-two" talks in November 2013. Meetings were shelved after that due to the crisis in Ukraine, as Japan joined sanctions against Moscow.