Japan, Russia bolster cooperation, urge NKorean restraint

AP

Print Article

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second left, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, put hands together with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, second right, and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada during the two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday, with both sides expressing hope that discussions on joint development of islands claimed by both countries might help them move closer to resolving the territorial dispute preventing them from forging a peace treaty. (David Mareuil/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 1

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second left, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, second right, and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada stand together as they pose for photographers at the start of the two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday, with both sides expressing hope that discussions on joint development of islands claimed by both countries might help them move closer to resolving the territorial dispute preventing them from forging a peace treaty. (David Mareuil/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 2

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the start of their meeting as a part of Japan-Russia foreign and defence ministers meeting at Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in Tokyo for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 3

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, shakes hands with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the start of their meeting as a part of Japan-Russia foreign and defence ministers meeting at Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in Tokyo for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 4

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, shake hands with his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada prior to their meeting at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

  • 5

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, shake hands with his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada prior to their meeting at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

  • 6

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, fifth from left, and talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, fourth from right, during their meeting as a part of Japan-Russia foreign and defense ministers meeting at Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in Tokyo for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second left, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, put hands together with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, second right, and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada during the two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday, with both sides expressing hope that discussions on joint development of islands claimed by both countries might help them move closer to resolving the territorial dispute preventing them from forging a peace treaty. (David Mareuil/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 1

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, second left, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, second right, and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada stand together as they pose for photographers at the start of the two-plus-two meeting in Tokyo Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday, with both sides expressing hope that discussions on joint development of islands claimed by both countries might help them move closer to resolving the territorial dispute preventing them from forging a peace treaty. (David Mareuil/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 2

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the start of their meeting as a part of Japan-Russia foreign and defence ministers meeting at Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in Tokyo for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 3

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, shakes hands with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the start of their meeting as a part of Japan-Russia foreign and defence ministers meeting at Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in Tokyo for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 4

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, shake hands with his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada prior to their meeting at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

  • 5

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, shake hands with his Japanese counterpart Tomomi Inada prior to their meeting at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia met in Tokyo on Monday for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

  • 6

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, fifth from left, and talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, fourth from right, during their meeting as a part of Japan-Russia foreign and defense ministers meeting at Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan Monday, March 20, 2017. The foreign and defense ministers from Japan and Russia are meeting in Tokyo for the first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Ukraine. (Issei Kato/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (AP) Japan and Russia agreed Monday to step up work toward resolving a longstanding territorial dispute through cooperation in a range of areas.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, also joined in urging North Korea to refrain from "provocative actions" and to abide by United Nations resolutions demanding an end to its nuclear and missile testing.

The call came in "two-plus-two" talks among foreign and defense ministers in Tokyo that touched on a wide array of issues, including the conflict in Syria, drug trafficking, and logistics for travel by elderly Japanese back to disputed islands that have been under Russian control since the end of World War II.

The meetings in Tokyo were the two countries' first "two-plus-two" talks since Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to visit Russia in late April and again in September, as the two sides haggle over how to narrow differences in the territorial dispute that has prevented them from reaching a peace treaty officially ending their World War II hostilities.

But while the talks appeared cordial and the tone was constructive, tensions remain.

Earlier this month, North Korea fired four missiles, of which three landed in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone.

Russia views missile defense systems the U.S., Japan's main ally, is deploying in northeast Asia as a threat to regional security, Lavrov said following the talks.

The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to install an advanced anti-missile system as a defense against North Korea. The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, has angered both Russia and China. Russia also objects to U.S. missile defense systems in Japan.

"The U.S. global ballistic missile defense poses a deep risk to the security of the region," Lavrov said. He said it was crucial to avoid upsetting the balance in the region and setting off an even greater arms buildup that could lead North Korea to step up its own military expansion.

Lavrov said the installation of the THAAD system was "a response completely out of proportion" to the threat from North Korea. He accused the U.S. of "pumping arms into the region," and called for approaches that might encourage North Korea to engage in dialogue with its neighbors.

Lavrov met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held talks with his Japanese counterpart, Tomomi Inada. The four ministers then held combined talks on international and bilateral issues.

"Based on the talks today, we hope to firmly work toward developing Japan-Russian cooperation in various areas," Kishida said afterward.

Japan and Russia last held "two-plus-two" talks in November 2013. Meetings were shelved after that due to the crisis in Ukraine, as Japan joined sanctions against Moscow.

As expected, the Tokyo talks did not yield a breakthrough on the conflicting Russian and Japanese claims to islands just north of Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido Etorofu, Kunashiri, Shikotan and the Habomai islets that came under Russian control in the closing weeks of World War II.

But the countries discussed possible visa-free travel between Hokkaido and the area. They also are working toward joint development of fisheries, tourism and other areas that might help bridge the gap.

"I believe this joint development will become an important step to create an appropriate environment for resolving a peace treaty," Lavrov told reporters.

Russia has been eager to enlist Japanese help with development of energy and other industries in its Far East.

But while Monday's talks yielded an agreement to keep talking, Japan has concerns over Russia's installment of surface-to-ship missiles on Etorofu and other military activity elsewhere on the disputed islands.

Disputes between Japan and Russia over territory date beyond World War II to the 19th century, when the Russian and Japanese empires fought for domination of northeastern China, then known as Manchuria, and the Korean Peninsula.

Japan's victory in the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese war hobbled Russia's expansion in the Far East and was the first significant triumph of an Asian country over a European power. A treaty brokered by the U.S. enabled Tokyo to claim territories that were later regained by Moscow after Japan's World War II defeat in 1945.

___

Associated Press journalists Howard Amos in Moscow and Emily Wang and Kaori Hitomi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

___

This story has been corrected to fix description of area where North Korean missiles fell.

     

Print Article

Read More World News

South Korea prosecutors push to arrest ex-leader

AP

March 26, 2017 at 10:34 pm | SEOUL, South Korea (AP) South Korean prosecutors said Monday they want to arrest former President Park Geun-hye for the corruption allegations that triggered a huge political scandal and toppled he...

Comments

Read More

Nationwide protests bring thousands to Russia's streets

AP

March 26, 2017 at 6:15 pm | MOSCOW (AP) Russia's opposition, often written off by critics as a small and irrelevant coterie of privileged urbanites, put on an impressive nationwide show of strength Sunday with dozens of prote...

Comments

Read More

Settler leader: Population growth is end of 2-state solution

AP

March 26, 2017 at 11:51 am | JERUSALEM (AP) The number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank has soared by nearly one-quarter over the past five years to over 420,000 people, a prominent settler leader said Sunday, prese...

Comments

Read More

Family of missing ex-FBI agent files lawsuit against Iran

AP

March 26, 2017 at 6:06 am | DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) The family of a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran a decade ago on an unauthorized CIA assignment has filed a lawsuit against the Islamic Republic, accusing ...

Comments

Read More

X