Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has vowed to settle a territorial dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands and to conclude a formal peace treaty with Moscow that has not been signed since the end of World War II.
"My mission as a politician, as prime minister, is to resolve the problem of the Northern Territories at any cost [and to conclude a peace treaty]," Abe was quoted as saying by Russia's state-run RIA Novosti, which in turn cited Japan's Kyodo news agency.
Territorial claims over four islands in the Kurils — known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia — have been at the heart of a territorial dispute between Moscow and Tokyo that has prevented them from concluding a formal World War II peace treaty.
Japan in August strongly condemned Russia for conducting military drills on the contested island chain, saying it would lodge a protest with the country's Foreign Ministry.
A month later, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov announced that the Russian government would spend 64 billion rubles ($1.25 billion) on the development of the Kuril Islands between 2016 and 2025, RIA Novosti reported.