The Northern Territories (or the Southern Kurils from Russia) are another disputed territory claimed by Japan. The Japanese and Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers will be meeting about the islands. There probably still won’t be a treaty, but there might at least be some progress. Protests, on the other hand, are less likely. My guess is that Noda and Putin would like to show strength and calm and are more interested in Vladivostok and Hokkaido in the context of a regional economy.
(When I was in Sapporo in January 2004, the lady in the bathhouse mistook me for a Russian. Her inadvertent remark to my wife – that there was a big, hairy Russian in the male bath – was wrong in only one particular. Everywhere else in Japan they think I’m American.)