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TOKYO – Japan's trade minister says his country's economic relations with Russia have grown more smoothly than political ties, with about 30 joint projects ready to be signed regardless of a breakthrough in territorial issues.
Trade minister Hiroshige Seko said Monday that a final decision on the projects is up to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Japan later this 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.
Although Abe has been pushing for progress, many believe a breakthrough is unlikely during the talks on Thursday and Friday. Seko said closer economic ties that benefit both sides will help foster trust.