2016-12-17 10:39:00

Putin invites Japan businesses to invest in east Siberia

(Vatican Radio) Russia's President Vladimir Putin has wrapped up a visit to Japan, inviting Japanese businesses to invest in eastern Siberia. The visit marked a warming of ties, two years after Russia seized Crimea.

Listen to Alastair Wanklyn’s report:

Russia's President Vladimir Putin agreed a range of business deals for Japanese companies in Russia's Far East.

The Kremlin has long promised to upgrade infrastructure in sparsely populated eastern Siberia but has lacked the cash.

There will be greater cooperation, too, on several disputed islands that the Soviet Union seized after Japan surrendered in World War II. 

The two sides still have not agreed a peace treaty. 

The isles, known in Russia as the Southern Kuriles, are a rallying point for Japanese nationalists. On Friday, police in Tokyo stepped up security around Russian diplomatic missions. 

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said greater commercial exchanges will help to build trust. 

But Putin said no progress is possible as long as each side insists on its sovereignty.

Meanwhile, judo fan Putin wrapped up his visit at a judo hall in Tokyo.

The informal event underscored how Japan decided to break the international isolation around Putin since Russia annexed Crimea over two years ago.

It was the Russian leader's first official visit to a G-7 country since those nations imposed sanctions. 

On Thursday, the European Union agreed to extend its sanctions until mid-way through next year. Meanwhile in Washington, there has been speculation that President-elect Donald Trump may seek to ease U.S. penalties against Russia.

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