Japan and Russia have agreed to hold joint military exercises and combine forces over cyber security. The decisions were announced during ministerial meetings in Tokyo, their highest-level talks between the two countries in years.
Relations between the two powers, which have been frosty for decades, appeared to be warming a little – with both sides saying they were keen to strengthen the relationship without jeopardising existing ties elsewhere.
Russian Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “Such meetings are not a format that would cause problems for the Japan-US relationship. And we hope that the Japan-US relationship wouldn’t get in the way of cooperation with Russia. When we create friendly relationships with one party, we don’t do it to antagonise another.”
Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said: “Japan and Russia are key players in the East Asia region, and deepening security cooperation between the two countries will contribute to regional peace and stability.”
The two countries never countries never signed a bilateral peace accord after World War II, due to a territorial dispute over four islands in the Pacific Ocean – named the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern territories by Japan.
Russia said, however, that these talks might have brought them a step closer to finally signing a treaty.