President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, dear Shinzo, ladies and gentlemen,
The talks with the Prime Minister of Japan were, as usual, of a business-like, constructive nature. We had a substantial discussion on the current state and prospects of Russian-Japanese relations, and exchanged opinions on a number of international problems.
As you know, yesterday we both took part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum and also had a meeting with our countries’ business leaders. And later today we will be at the Bolshoi Theatre to open the Year of Russia in Japan and the Year of Japan in the Russian Federation.
I would like to state with satisfaction that there is steady progress in Russian-Japanese cooperation. Constant political dialogue is ongoing between our countries, ministries and agencies are interacting, and inter-parliamentary and inter-regional relations are developing.
We have good results in the economy, too. Last year bilateral trade grew by 14 percent to exceed $18 billion. The volume of Japan’s investments in Russia is also growing. The Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation are closely collaborating. They established the Russia-Japan Investment Fund, which renders practical assistance to both countries’ companies in attracting credit resources for promising joint projects.
I must stress that our Japanese partners work in many different industries and in agriculture. About 100 projects are underway within the framework of the plan proposed by Prime Minister Abe in eight fields, as well as within the Russian list of priority investment projects.
Energy is one of the key areas. Russia provides Japan with about 10 percent of natural gas consumed by the country. In turn, Japanese companies take part in natural gas extraction and processing at the Yamal LNG, Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 facilities.
Speaking about cooperation in science and education, I would like to note that our countries’ scientists are currently engaged in over 100 joint projects. These include research in plasma physics, peaceful atom, ecology, seismology and space exploration.
I should also note the dynamically unfolding humanitarian relations, which include the 2017 Russian Seasons in Japan, the 12th Russian Culture Festival, and, of course, the cross years of Russia and Japan to be opened today.
During the talks we discussed issues related to the peace treaty. We feel it important to continue a patient search for a solution which would meet the strategic interests of both Russia and Japan and would be acceptable for the people of both countries.
We have reviewed in this context the implementation of the agreements on joint economic activities in the southern Kuril Islands. We are satisfied with the state of dialogue in five previously approved fields – aquaculture, greenhouse farming, package tours, wind farming and waste processing.
We also supported a proposal on sending the third Japanese business mission to the islands in the second half of the year. We will keep addressing problems related to the humanitarian part of the matter, and we will assist Japanese citizens in visiting the islands.
A special focus was given to the situation around the Korean Peninsula when discussing current international problems. We reiterated our interest in preserving the atmosphere of peace in that region.
We believe that the process participants should show restraint, avoid a new cycle of confrontation and hold the situation within the political and diplomatic field.
To conclude, I would like to thank Mr Prime Minister of open, frank and very useful talks.
Thank you for your attention.
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (retranslated): Once again, I have managed to come to Moscow. It is flooded in greenery. Yesterday I was in President Putin’s hometown and became the first Japanese Prime Minister to take part in the St Petersburg Economic Forum. It is a great honour for me. The White Nights gala was captivating. I am very grateful for the warm reception.
This is a special year for Japan-Russia relations. Today, at the Bolshoi Theatre, we will launch the Russia-Japan cross years together with President Putin. Russia will soon welcome the World Cup, which will bring with it many Japanese fans. It will bolster trust and friendship between our two peoples. This gives me great joy.
Russia has rich natural resources, a market with a population of 140 million and outstanding talent. Japan has its own advantages that can be matched with Russia’s. The flowers of our cooperation are blossoming one after another. Two years have passed since I put forward an 8-poin plan of cooperation in medicine, urban environment, energy and other areas.
Projects that are beneficial for the residents are taking shape. The policy to boost the citizens’ quality of life, declared by President Putin, is coherent with the 8-point cooperation plan. Let us now begin intensive cooperation in the economy digitalization and labour productivity improvement.
It was eighteen months ago in Nagato (I recall it was snowing) when Mr Putin and I met eye to eye, after which we announced our sincere commitment to resolving the issue of the peace treaty, giving a start to efforts in new areas.
One of these areas is shared economic activity on the four islands. Both Japanese and Russian citizens will be able to reap the fruit of their joint work there. Then people will understand that cooperation brings big results of mutual benefit. It is then that we will be able to find a solution that would accommodate both countries.
Today we have agreed to step up the implementation of joint projects in five areas: aquaculture, hothouse vegetable farming, organizing wonderful nature trips, wind energy and waste recycling. In this context, we have agreed to send a business mission comprising project participants to the islands possibly in July or August.
To streamline joint activity, let us set up conditions that would allow people to act more freely. We will step up the discussion of this issue.
We took an important decision in Nagato, to meet the hopes and wishes of the former residents of the islands. Last year, for the first time, they were transported to the islands by air to visit the burial sites of their forebears.
I would like to once again express my gratitude to Russia for facilitating this. We have reaffirmed our readiness to provide air transportation to burial sites in July this year. We will urgently decide on the schedule.
Despite the difficult issues we face, we must begin with the fact that our plan can be implemented without prejudice to the legal positions of both parties. The first step will definitely open up new avenues. Our building on mutual trust is what will bear fruit.
As I have already mentioned, in my hometown of Nagato Mr Putin and I announced our sincere aspiration toward a peace treaty. It is this will, our will, our strength of will that can open a new way for the relations between Russia and Japan. For that reason, we have reaffirmed our commitment to advancing toward a peace treaty in a consistent way and using a new approach.
Japan and Russia are called upon to deepen cooperation and build trust-based bilateral relations characteristic of true friends. Let us further promote ideology, and expand it to security. We are planning on holding the third 2+2 meeting in the second half of 2018.
We will be expanding concrete cooperation in combating terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering, or unorthodox threats.
We have had an in-depth discussion on the situation in North Korea, which has now shown new development. In keeping with the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration, we must reach a comprehensive solution to the nuclear missile issues, abductions, turn the page on the unhappy past and seek to normalise relations. I am certain that Mr Putin understands this consistent policy of our country.
It is of special importance that Korea achieve verified and irreversible denuclearization in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution. Japan and Russia will maintain close dialogue to make sure that North Korea steers on the right path.
President Putin told me during our meeting in Vietnam in November last year that we could now hope for the implementation of all our plans. I want to say the same to the President-elect today.
The issue of the peace treaty that has not been signed for 70 years is not an easy one to address, but we want to put an end to it during the lifetime of this generation. It is the principal task of our plan.
We have had our 21st meeting with Mr Putin, and have built a trust-based relationship. As Mr Putin has already said, today we have been able to have a frank exchange of views. It is with respect and patience that I am looking forward to our next meeting in Vladivostok in September.
Thank you very much!