Putin-Abe Meeting In Singapore Next Week Might End A 70-Year Conflict

Putin-Abe Meeting

Singapore has a reputation for cleanliness and efficiency. But now it appears that we can add “international peacemakers” to our list of desirable traits.

That’s because we’ll be hosting yet another high-profile meeting between two leaders with a history of hostility. This time, it’ll be Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting on our sunny shores.

Their meeting comes just 5 months after the historic Singapore Summit, which marked the first time a sitting US President met a North Korean leader.

Mr Putin will meet Mr Abe on the sidelines of next week’s ASEAN meetings, to be held from November 13 to 15. No word on where these meetings will be held though, in case you were hoping for a glimpse of either leader.

The meetings between Mr Putin and Mr Abe aren’t the first this year. But they are significant because they might end a 70-year territorial dispute.

The Japan-Russia conflict explained

Relations between Russia and Japan are far from warm. They soured dramatically at the end of the Second World War, when Russia ignored a non-aggression pact and declared war on Japan.

The two states have yet to sign a peace treaty since, because of a conflict over a string of islands. Known as the Kuril Islands, these stretch between northern Hokkaido and the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.

The Kuril Islands are circled in red.

Negotiations have gone on for decades with no end in sight. But something happened the last time the two met in Vladivostok, Russia in September.

Why the Putin-Abe meeting matters

That was the month that Mr Putin appeared to extend an olive branch to Japan. At the Eastern Economic Forum, he said,

We have been negotiating for 70 years. (Mr Abe) said let’s change our approach. So here’s the idea I came up with — let’s conclude a peace treaty not now, but before the end of the year without any preconditions.

Japan almost immediately turned down that offer, saying that the Kuril Islands matter had to be ironed out first before any peace treaty could be signed.

The Putin-Abe meeting in Singapore will be the first since this exchange. So they might be an important step to lasting peace in the Sea of Okhotsk.

The meetings might also set the tone for future dialogue between the two superpowers. But whether anything lasting will be inked remains to be seen.

Featured image from Wikipedia

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