Russia's top diplomat is holding talks with his Japanese counterpart in Tokyo to discuss preparations for meetings between the two leaders this year.

Sergey Lavrov's trip comes days after Japan hosted foreign ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Russia is barred from G-7 because of its annexation of Crimea in 2014. That has also shelved Russian President Vladimir Putin's Japan visit for nearly two years.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to make progress in the dispute over Russian-held islands. It has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities.

Media reports say officials are arranging for Abe to make an unofficial trip to Sochi in southern Russia on May 6 to meet with Putin, ahead of Putin's return visit.