Japan hopes for progress at peace treaty talks with Russia

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : Tokyo hopes that the talks between the foreign ministers of Japan and Russia in Moscow will boost the chances of signing a peace treaty, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said on Sunday.

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Russia and Japan have failed to sign a formal peace treaty following World War II over their territorial dispute on the South Kuril Islands. Tokyo has moved to step up bilateral ties with a view to signing the treaty with Russia’s new leadership.

“We need to agree on reaching progress for signing a peace treaty to bring our relations to a new level,” Kazuo Kodama, the press secretary of the Japanese foreign minister said.

In Moscow, Japan’s Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura will meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, and members of the Russian business community.

He will also visit a Toyota plant near St. Petersburg. The Japanese auto giant opened the plant last December planning to produce 20,000 Toyota Camry cars a year. Visiting the plant’s opening ceremony, Putin said bilateral trade in 2007 grew more than 40% on the previous year’s figures to $18.5 billion.

Komura will also discuss in Moscow a possible visit to Russia by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda at the beginning of his European tour planned for early May.

In January, the Japanese premier expressed his readiness to improve relations with Russia in all spheres.