Japan congratulates Putin on election victory
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda Monday congratulated Russia's Vladimir Putin on his election victory during a phone call in which he expressed hope for the "wise" resolution of an island dispute.
The two men held a five-minute telephone conversation Monday afternoon after Putin reclaimed the Kremlin in Sunday’s election, the foreign ministry in Tokyo said in a statement.
“During the telephone talks, Prime Minister Noda congratulated Prime Minister Putin on securing his presidential election,” the statement said.
“(Noda) said he wants to cooperate with Prime Minister Putin in resolving the territorial issue wisely,” it said, referring to disputed islands at the northern tip of the Japanese archipelago, known as the Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.
Putin replied that he was looking forward to meeting the Japanese premier in order to develop Japan-Russia relations “in all the fields,” the statement said.
The two nations have never formally signed a peace treaty as Japan maintains its claim over the islands, which Russia has controlled since Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.
Tokyo claims the chain’s four southernmost islands, a sore spot that continues to cast a cloud over Russian-Japanese relations.
President Dmitry Medvedev outraged Japan in November 2010 when he became the first Russian leader to visit the resource-rich islands.
Both Japan and Russia are members of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme, which have been suspended since Pyongyang stormed out, but moved a step closer at the weekend when the hermit state reached an accord with Washington.
Putin secured nearly 64 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, winning back the Russian presidency which he held for two terms from 2000-2008 before his four-year stint as prime minister.
He will formally take over as president after his inauguration in May.