The government said Monday there has been no change to the plan for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Japan this fall, underscoring that it will continue efforts to solve a bilateral territorial row.
The comment came despite Putin having expressed discontent last week with Japan going along with the United States and European nations in imposing sanctions on Russia for its intervention in Ukraine.
The planned visit by Putin "has not been changed at all so far," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference. The top government spokesman also said Japan will continue its policy of seeking a peace treaty with Russia after addressing the decades-old territorial dispute.
Japan and Russia have been in talks over a group of Russia-administered islands off Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. The row over their ownership has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty following World War II.
On Saturday, Putin said he was surprised by Japan imposing sanctions on Russia along with Western countries over Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March. The sanctions include travel bans and asset freezes targeting Russian government officials.
Putin was speaking at a meeting in St. Petersburg with representatives of news agencies from major countries. He said Japan has stalled the territorial talks.
But the president also said he believes Japan and Russia can reach a compromise over the issue.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Putin have met several times over the past year, aiming to develop personal ties to help achieve a breakthrough in the negotiations, according to Japanese officials. At a summit in February, they agreed that Putin will visit Japan this fall.
Also Monday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech that Japan "must maintain political dialogue with Russia although our relations are in a difficult situation over Ukraine."
A specific schedule for Putin's visit as well as the next round of working-level talks on the territorial issue have yet to be fixed, a Japanese government source said.