Japan says it wants dispute over islands resolved before Russia treaty

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan wants the return of islands captured by Russia in World War Two before it signs a peace treaty, a Japanese government spokesman said on Wednesday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Japan agree to an unconditional peace treaty.

Putin made the suggestion to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a question and answer session at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

The disputed Pacific islands are known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan.

“I don’t want to comment on what President Putin said,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular briefing in Tokyo.

“However, our position that the Northern Territories issue is resolved before any peace treaty remains unchanged.”

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Robert Birsel