Europe

Putin: Russia, Japan could solve 70-year territorial dispute

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second right, speaks to a group of former residents of the Russian-held islands off Japan's major northern island of Hokkaido during a meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. The meeting was held three days before Abe's meeting with Putin in Japan later in the week. A dispute over the southern Kuril islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. The Soviet Union seized them in the war’s final days. (Kyodo News via AP)

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second right, speaks to a group of former residents of the Russian-held islands off Japan's major northern island of Hokkaido during a meeting at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. The meeting was held three days before Abe's meeting with Putin in Japan later in the week. A dispute over the southern Kuril islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty formally ending their World War II hostilities. The Soviet Union seized them in the war’s final days. (Kyodo News via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 and made available on Tuesday, Dec. 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall with his Akita-inu dog Yume before his interview with the Nippon Television Network Corporation and the Yomiuri Shimbun prior to his visit to Japan and meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Alexei Druzhinin/ Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 and made available on Tuesday, Dec. 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall with his Akita-inu dog Yume before his interview with the Nippon Television Network Corporation and the Yomiuri Shimbun prior to his visit to Japan and meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Alexei Druzhinin/ Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 and made available on Tuesday, Dec. 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin plays with his Akita-inu dog Yume before his interview with the Nippon Television Network Corporation and the Yomiuri Shimbun prior to his visit to Japan and meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Alexei Druzhinin/ Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    In this photo taken on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016 and made available on Tuesday, Dec. 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin plays with his Akita-inu dog Yume before his interview with the Nippon Television Network Corporation and the Yomiuri Shimbun prior to his visit to Japan and meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. (Alexei Druzhinin/ Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that there is a "chance" to resolve a 70-year territorial dispute with Japan during an upcoming visit to Asian country.

Moscow and Tokyo have never formally signed a treaty ending World War II because of a dispute over the ownership of the Kuril Islands north of Japan.

Putin told Japanese journalists that it's difficult for him to say how big the chance is "because it depends on factors including the flexibility of our partners," according to an interview transcript published by the Kremlin on Tuesday.

But Putin, who arrives in Japan on Thursday, said that Moscow was happy with the status quo.

Putin said that "we think that we have no territorial problems. It's Japan that thinks that is has a territorial problem with Russia."