Japan and Russia pledge to resolve Second World War dispute

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Conflicting claims over the ownership over a cluster of four islands off north Japan has prevented the two nations agreeing a peace treaty to formally end the Second World War.

However, Taro Aso, Japan's prime minister, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, have agreed to produce "concrete" measures to resolve the six-decade dispute in a bid to normalise relations in the region.

During a private meeting during the Asia-Pacific leader summit in Lima, Mr Aso told his Russian counterpart: "We have to define the border otherwise this problem will remain an element of destabilisation in the region.

"I know you're a lawyer so you know about this. I would like to normalise Russian-Japanese relations."

As part of the drive to resolve the territorial issue, "intensive, political dialogue" will take place between leaders while Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Japan early next year.

It was at the end of the Second World War that Russia's Red Army seized control of the four islands jutting out of the Pacific off Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido.

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