"Despite the fact that under the US-Japan security treaty, the US military has the right to utilize lands and capacities in Japan, the Japanese government must approve the site for establishment," Abe said, as quoted by Kyodo news agency.
Russia and Japan have not signed a permanent peace treaty after the end of World War II. The dispute over the Kuril Islands — referred to as the Southern Kurils by Russia and the Northern Territories by Japan — has been one of the main stumbling rocks in the peace talks.
Moscow and Tokyo signed a Joint Declaration in 1956 that provided for the restoration of bilateral relations and stipulated that the two countries would continue efforts to sign a permanent peace treaty and settle the island dispute. The Soviet Union pledged to consider handing over two islands to Japan.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the fact that the US military presence in Japan has been affecting the negotiations, arguing that Tokyo's obligations to Washington in the military field might have hidden threats.
Abe has assured the Russian side that the US troops are located in Japan only to guarantee the country's security, not to threaten Russia. Earlier in January, Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, the commander of the US forces in Japan, said that the United States had no intentions to deploy troops on the Kuril Islands if they are given to Japan.
In January, Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with the Japanese prime minister in Moscow. The leaders noted the strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries and the further potential for its development. The issue of the peace treaty was also discussed, though the parties have not reached any agreements yet.
On January 28, the Japanese Foreign Ministry reported that Tokyo and Moscow were working out the details of the planned meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Japanese top diplomat Taro Kono in the German city of Munich in February.