Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a meeting in Moscow on April 29, 2013.
Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev

Russia and Japan have announced they will soon resume negotiations on a peace treaty that’s been hanging around, unsigned, since World War II ended in 1945.

While the two countries signed a truce agreement after the war, the fact that they have not finished negotiating a peace treaty means they are still nominally at war, Reuters reported.

In a joint statement, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who’s visiting Moscow this week, said that "it's not normal" for this situation to have lingered for almost 68 years.

"During the last few years the negotiations to sign a peace agreement found themselves in a state of stagnation," Abe said at a press conference in Moscow, according to EFE. "But in the current conversations we've managed to agree that we will resume the negotiations and accelerate this process.”

One issue that may prove tricky to resolve: a territorial dispute over which country owns four islands in the Pacific, known as the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. The islands were seized by the Soviet Union in Aug. 1945.

Both countries could benefit from closer ties, according to the Los Angeles Times. Japan could find new investment opportunities in Russia’s underdeveloped eastern regions, and Russia could sell its natural resources to Japan, lessening its dependence on Chinese consumers.

“I don’t think either of the two countries wants to see China become a regional hegemon in Southeast Asia, albeit Russia might not be happy with the lead role the United States plays there either,” Simon Saradzhyan, a Russian scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center, told the Los Angeles Times. “A more robust Japanese-Russian relationship would help both Tokyo and Moscow to balance China’s rise.”

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