[JURIST] Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [official website; JURIST news archive] said Tuesday that President Dmitry Medvedev and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso [official websites] will discuss a possible peace treaty between the two nations at a G8 summit in Italy in July. Putin spoke at a news conference [Interfax report] following talks with Japanese officials during his visit to Japan [materials]. A dispute over the control of an island chain, known as the Kurils Islands in Russia and the Northern Territories [Japan MOFA materials] in Japan, has led to the absence of a formal peace treaty [JURIST report] ending World War II hostilities between Japan and Russia. Putin said that Russia and Japan would explore every option [Kyodo News report] for resolving the dispute. Putin also said Tuesday that he hopes to resolve the dispute by strengthening economic ties [RIA Novosti report] between the two countries.
In 2007, then-Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said that no formal peace treaty would be concluded [JURIST report] between Japan and Russia until Russia relinquishes control of the islands it has occupied since the end of World War II. Possession of the island chain was first transferred from Russia to Japan in 1855 under a friendship treaty. It remained under Japanese control until Russian troops seized the islands during the last days of World War II, an act in violation of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact [text], signed by both nations on April 13, 1941. Abe and Putin discussed the return of the islands [Kyodo News report] during an economic summit in 2005, but no agreement was reached.