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Japan, Russia Paving Way For Better Ties Ahead Of Putin's Tokyo Trip

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (left) and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, meet in Tokyo in April 2016.

Japan and Russia say they will speed their efforts to enhance economic cooperation ahead of a visit to Tokyo by Russian President Vladimir Putin -- despite the sacking of Russia's economic development minister.

Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said at a joint press conference with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov on November 15 that both countries would "speed up arrangements" to prepare more than 10 documents related to "customs, human exchange, and medicine" so they can be formally agreed upon when Putin visits Tokyo in December.

Putin is scheduled to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on December 15.

Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev had been leading the Kremlin's efforts to deepen cooperation with Tokyo.

But Putin sacked Ulyukayev on November 15 after he was arrested and charged with extorting a $2 million bribe from Russia’s state-owned oil giant, Rosneft.

Ulyukayev has denied the charges.

Based on reporting by AFP, TASS, and Interfax