Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that he wants his country and Japan to pursue a mutually acceptable solution in peace treaty negotiations.
Putin held an annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow on Thursday. He fielded questions from Russian and foreign media for more than four hours.
Regarding peace treaty negotiations with Japan, Putin said he had a relationship of trust with Japan's leader and that they are exploring an exit.
Putin used the judo term "hikiwake," meaning a draw, when he reiterated his position that the two nations should seek a solution acceptable to both. He also used the word years ago when discussing a territorial issue over Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.
Russia controls the islands. 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.
The territorial issue has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty since the end of the war.
Putin also touched on the US intention to deploy ground-based intermediate-range missiles in Asia following the expiration of a bilateral arms control treaty banning them. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, expired in August.
Putin suggested that no one can guarantee Washington won't deploy a new offensive system on any island if Russia hands it over to Japan. The US has a security alliance with Japan.
Putin denied planning to form a military alliance with China despite Moscow helping Beijing establish a missile-attack warning system.
He said the US, Japan, and South Korea are seemingly trying to create a military alliance, but that the move will be counterproductive.