April 16, 2015 / 2:46 PM / 4 years ago

Russia-Japan relations over disputed islands unchanged after Crimea: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with journalists after a live broadcast nationwide call-in in Moscow April 16, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s relations with Japan over disputed Pacific Islands have not changed following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Tokyo and Moscow have been involved in a decades-old dispute over islands north of Hokkaido, known as the Kuriles in Russia and referred to as the Northern Territories in Japan.

“Our relations with Japan ... concerning this territorial issue have not changed at all in connection with Crimea,” Putin said during his annual televised call-in show.

Putin said he was ready to discuss the issue but blamed Japan for a lack of dialogue.

In line with the United States and the European Union, Japan imposed visa bans on a number of Russians after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula last year.

Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Jason Bush and Alison Williams

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