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International relations

Japan and Russia seek end to island dispute in China's shadow

Beijing's growing influence pushes Tokyo and Moscow to seek strategic cooperation

Negotiations between Russia and Japan over the disputed islands will kick off in 2019.

TOKYO -- Momentum is growing for Japan and Russia to put aside their decades-old territorial dispute, as the two countries seek to strengthen strategic cooperation partly to counter the growing influence of China.

Soviet forces seized the four islands off the coast of Hokkaido at the end of World War II, which Japan claim as its Northern Territories. Experts say that it is in the interest of Tokyo and Moscow to overcome the territorial dispute and establish a "normal relationship," a move that could tip Asia's geopolitical balance in their favor.

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