German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lobby Japan’s joining NATO during her visit to the country last March, The Japan News writes.
'Shinzo, why don’t you join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization?" the Chancellor asked. "I could persuade the British Prime Minister Cameron and French President Hollande.'
Just in order not to seem rude Abe evasively replied: 'Maybe in the future.' And then said: 'If we join right now, our negotiations with Russia will stop.'
Russia and Japan have been continuing their territorial dispute on the ownership of a number of islands of the Kuril archipelago. It is expected that Japanese Prime Minister and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in May and discuss this issue.
This February, Abe spoke at the rally, where the participants demanded the islands to be returned under Tokyo’s rule. Abe promised to settle the 60-year-old territorial dispute over the islands, which are called the southern Kurils by Russia while Japan knows them as the Northern Territories.