Vladimir Putin has arrived in Japan for a summit aimed at seeking progress on a territorial row that’s soured relations between the two countries.
The Russian president was met by Japan’s foreign minister Fumio Kishida, before talks began with Shinzo Abe at Nagato in the prime minister’s home constituency.
The two leaders are likely to seek agreements on economic cooperation – although Tokyo has ruled out any accord that would undermine Western unity on sanctions against Moscow.
The disputed islands in the western Pacific are known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kuriles.
They were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War II, forcing some 17,000 Japanese residents to flee. The row has blocked a peace treaty formally ending the conflict.
Japan’s prime minister has pledged to resolve the dispute to build better ties with Russia and counter rising Chinese influence.
But a deal carries risks for Putin who doesn’t want to damage his domestic image of being a staunch defender of Russian sovereignty.
The islands also have strategic value for Moscow, ensuring naval access to the western Pacific.