The leaders of Russia and Japan held talks at a hot springs resort in western Japan on Thursday on a territorial dispute that has divided their countries for 70 years.
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the summit meeting in Nagato city marks his first official visit to a G-7 country since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited Putin even though the G-7 nations, including Japan, still have sanctions on Russia. The meetings will move to Tokyo on Friday.
Abe hopes to make progress on the territorial dispute and bolster ties through joint economic projects. A major breakthrough is seen as unlikely.
In brief remarks before the meeting, Abe told Putin that the hot spring waters of Nagato are famous for relieving fatigue.
“I can guarantee you that the hot springs here would fully remove fatigue from our summit talks,” he said.
Putin replied, “Better not to get too tired.” He also credited Abe’s efforts for “a certain movement in the development of Russian-Japanese ties.