Putin: Lack of peace treaty with Japan 'nonsense'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed his willingness to continue peace treaty negotiations with Japan, which include the issue of four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan.

Putin spoke at an international economic forum held in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok on Friday.

Putin called the absence of a peace treaty "nonsense," and said Russia has never rejected the process that leads to the signing of the treaty.

Russia's constitution was amended last year to ban the ceding of territory. But Putin said this will not change Moscow's approach in terms of concluding the treaty.

Putin added that the negotiations must accompany assurances of Russian security. He reiterated his belief that Japan must consider Russia's concerns over the Japan-US security alliance.

The territorial issue has prevented the two sides from concluding the treaty. Russia controls the islands. Japan claims them. The Japanese government maintains that the islands are an inherent part of Japan's territory. It says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.

At the forum, Putin also said Japanese and other foreign companies that do business on the islands will be exempted from key taxes for 10 years. He added that the area would also become a tariff-free zone.