President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
We hold meetings with Mr Abe on a regular basis. You may have noticed, this is our second meeting this year, and the Prime Minister’s second visit to Russia. The Prime Minister of Japan is always accompanied by a representative delegation of official and business circles. This was the case at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in which about 150 leading Japanese entrepreneurs took part together with the Prime Minister. Now members of the Japanese Government, representatives of prefectures and several hundred major Japanese companies have arrived in Vladivostok with Mr Abe.
I would like to thank our Japanese partners for their high interest in developing mutually beneficial cooperation, and a striving to expand versatile contacts in the economy, politics and the humanitarian area.
I would like to note that Japan is an important and reliable partner for Russia. We continue to develop Russian-Japanese cooperation based on the principles of good neighbourliness, mutual respect and reciprocal consideration for each other’s interests.
Our countries are engaged in intensive political dialogue. On July 31 our foreign and defence ministers held talks in the “two plus two” format.
Today’s talks with the Prime Minister took place in a business-like and constructive atmosphere. We discussed in detail major bilateral issues, paying much attention to the prospects for expanding trade, economic and investment cooperation.
I would like to note that bilateral trade grew 14 percent last year and another 20 percent in the first six months of this year, with the export of Russian engineering products to Japan up almost 90 percent.
Japanese companies are actively investing in the most varied segments of Russian industry and agriculture. Total investment in the Russian economy has reached $2 billion.
About 100 mutually beneficial joint projects are being successfully implemented as part of the cooperation plan in eight areas proposed by Prime Minister Abe as well as the Russian list of priority investment projects.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation are cooperating closely. The Russia-Japan investment fund they have established helps the two countries’ businesses attract loans for prospective projects.
Today the Prime Minister and I attended the launch of a new Mazda Sollers plant near Vladivostok that will produce up to 50,000 car engines per year.
Energy is a main area of bilateral cooperation. This July, the second line of the LNG producing plant was launched as part of the Yamal LNG project with the participation of Japanese companies. The construction of the third line with a total capacity of 16.5 million tonnes is underway.
We are working on the possible involvement of our Japanese partners to the Sakhalin-2, Arctic LNG-2 and Baltic LNG projects as well as to the construction of an LNG handling terminal in the Kamchatka Territory.
Russian and Japanese businesses work together in the exploration of the Ichedinsky oil field in the Irkutsk Region.
Cooperation in the nuclear sphere is also expanding. Russian experts are developing detectors to search for and identify damaged fuel as part of the response to the aftermath of the Fukushima 1 nuclear disaster.
Our joint activities in the spheres of energy efficiency and renewable energy sources are also developing dynamically. Japanese companies are participating in the construction of advanced transport infrastructure in Russia.
Russian Railways together with its Japanese colleagues have begun test runs for container shipping along the Trans-Siberian Railway. I hope that after they are successfully completed we will be able to significantly increase the volume of Russian cargo sent to Europe.
Cultural and humanitarian ties are also progressing. This May, Mr Abe and I launched the Year of Russia in Japan and the Year of Japan in Russia. This is a unique, large-scale project our countries are implementing for the first time.
The programme includes over 400 events dedicated to culture, art, science, youth exchanges and public organisations.
Our sports contacts continue to grow. In October and November in Japan, Russian athletes will be demonstrating Russian martial arts. The day after tomorrow, on September 12, Mr Prime Minister and I plan to welcome the winners of the Far East Tall Ships Regatta 2018.
We will also attend the international junior judo tournament dedicated to the memory of the famous Soviet athlete Vasily Oshchepkov, a pioneer of sports exchanges between our countries in martial arts.
We have of course tackled the peace treaty issue during the talks. As you know, this issue has remained unresolved for many decades and it would be naive to believe that it could be settled overnight. But we are ready to search for solutions that will suit both Russia and Japan and will be acceptable for the people of both countries.
In this context, we have noted some success in developing joint economic activities in the Southern Kurils and are satisfied with the progress in coordinating roadmaps for the implementation of projects in five approved areas: aquaculture, greenhouse farms, wind energy, package tours and waste management.
We also continue to discuss with our Japanese colleagues the free cross-border movement of residents of the neighbouring regions. We agreed to organise the third Japanese business mission to the Southern Kuril Islands by the end of this year, followed by a fourth round of talks on joint economic activities, where the results of this trip will be summed up, among other things.
To meet our Japanese partners halfway, we have simplified the procedure for the visiting of family graves in the Southern Kurils by former Japanese residents, something Mr Prime Minister repeatedly mentioned at our previous meetings.
Mr Abe and I exchanged views on important current international issues, including ensuring security and stability in the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Particular attention was paid to the developments on the Korean Peninsula. We intend to continue close contact to promote the inter-Korean dialogue and resolution of all political and diplomatic disagreements there.
In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Prime Minister and all of our Japanese colleagues for the business-like and substantive discussion. As I mentioned, we have a number of other events planned with Mr Abe, including the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum.
I am confident that this busy visit of the Japanese Prime Minister to Russia will give a fresh impetus to bilateral relations, which will continue to expand in the spirit of partnership and cooperation.
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (retranslated): This is the third consecutive year that I have visited Vladivostok where the azure sea and blue skies sparkle with dazzling beams. Participation in the Eastern Economic Forum and my meetings with President Putin in September are becoming a good tradition.
Regrettably, after 70 years there are still outstanding issues between Japan and Russia but President Putin and I would like to resolve them. We confirmed our common position in my homeland of Nagato. For two years we have been striving to resolve this common issue step by step.
We take different measures on the four northern islands in order to pursue joint public activities. President Putin and I have chosen five candidates for projects.
After exactly a year, at today’s meeting, we have endorsed a roadmap for implementing our projects: increasing sea products, tourism, electricity generation, and waste processing, five projects in all. President Putin and I have now decided how to resolve these issues and carry out these projects. A realistic way to implement them is taking shape.
We will hold a business mission to discuss implementation in early October. This will be a major step forward. We will continue resolving the issues related to the visits of the islands by the former residents, taking into account their needs.
In July, former residents paid a second visit to the burial sites of their relatives. I am grateful to our Russian colleagues for the work they did on this. We had to overcome some difficulties but we made it happen and continue working together on this.
The situation is changing for the better. What was impossible is now happening. The characteristics of Japanese-Russian cooperation are changing our approaches, and we can do these things without encroaching on the legal positions of either side.
As we gain more experience we are moving towards our common goal with the President – the peace treaty. We want to resolve this issue through our efforts. This is a goal for our generation. President Putin and I will do everything we can to achieve this.
The cooperation between military agencies and border services plays an important role in strengthening trust. The Chief of Staff of the Japan Self-Defence Forces is expected to visit Russia this October. We will cooperate closely in addressing such threats as terrorism and drugs.
We have had an open discussion on North Korea. The international community must strictly comply with the UN Security Council resolution to make it completely abandon nuclear weapons. We will continue to honestly cooperate with Russia.
I have explained Japan’s position to Vladimir Putin. Japan believes that if we solve the issues related to abductions of Japanese citizens and nuclear problems together we would be able to draw a line under our unfortunate past and normalise diplomatic relations; we would be able to provide economic aid to North Korea. I would like to note once again that in order to do this we must solve the problem of the North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens, and I received the President’s understanding and support.
I would like to think about other opportunities to develop our cooperation here, in this city to which President Putin attaches much importance, among Japanese and Russian businesspeople.
During my visit to Russia this May, President Putin and I launched the first-ever cross years of Japan and Russia. The programme includes Kabuki theatre, art exhibitions, Yabusame and other numerous events.
Many Japanese football fans who came to Russia to watch 2018 FIFA World Cup matches still hold in their hearts the amazement and unforgettable impressions of Russian hospitality and our national teams’ remarkable performances.
This year is a good year ˗ both Japanese and Russian people are showing more interest in each other than ever. New measures will be taken this October to ease visa requirements for Russian tourist groups. This is what the slogan of the Year of Japan in Russia calls for: There is a Japan You Don’t Know.
I am eager to step up these humanitarian exchanges. Two years ago in Vladivostok I suggested that we monitor the implementation of the eight-item cooperation plan in the city. Over 150 projects have been launched. Rehab centres have opened in the Far East and rapid communication services have been put in place. Thus, one project is being carried out after another.
President Putin and I visited the Mazda engine plant and saw the assembled engines that will be exported to different countries in Japanese cars. So, I can see wonderful images of future urban development in the city.
Today we exchanged diplomatic notes for the entry into force of the Japan-Russia convention on avoiding double taxation. I would like to welcome this agreement, which will be effective this October.
I would like to assure you on behalf of the Government that we are ready to create conditions for the further promotion of economic ties.
We coordinated issues on restoring the meetings of Japanese and Russian governors that have not been held in a long time. Our local government bodies that did not contact before have started cooperating and communicating. I would also like to welcome the increase of this new communication.
Japan and Russia do have a complicated issue, but it is possible to hold a difficult conversations with you because we enjoy mutual trust. It is quite possible to find a mutually acceptable solution with you. I believe in this.
We will meet on the sidelines of various international conferences. We will meet at the G20 forum in Osaka in June and will close our cultural cross years together in Tokyo. We have just agreed to do this. I will do everything I can for every meeting with you to be productive.
I wish every success to the Eastern Economic Forum. Good luck!