The leaders of Japan and Russia have reaffirmed cooperation on planned joint economic projects on Russian-controlled islands claimed by Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin talked over the phone on Monday, following Putin's victory in the presidential election.
They agreed to move forward with preparations for projects on the islands. The Japanese government hopes they will be a step toward a peace treaty between the 2 countries.
Abe and Putin also agreed to make it easier for Japanese citizens who used to live on the islands to visit the graves of their ancestors, such as by allowing them to fly there.
Russia controls the 4 islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.
Abe and Putin also discussed North Korea. They agreed to closely cooperate on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
They also spoke about the recent nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. Abe told Putin the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. He said the most important thing is to get to the bottom of what happened.
Abe plans to visit Russia in May and hold talks with Putin.