Abe, Putin to improve Japan-Russia ties but breakthrough on islands unlikely

By REUTERS
December 8, 2016 08:41

 
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TOKYO - Japan and Russia look set to improve ties and clinch some business deals when their leaders meet next week, but both sides are scaling back expectations of a big breakthrough in a territorial row that has blocked a peace treaty to formally end World War Two.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who pledged in September to "resolve the territorial issue," wants to leave a diplomatic legacy by breaking the impasse with Russia, a strategy he hopes would help Tokyo counter a rising China.

Territorial concessions would be risky for Russian President Vladimir Putin but the business agreements Tokyo is dangling would be welcome for an economy hit by low oil prices and Western sanctions.

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