Vladimir Putin: I was delighted to meet here in the hospitable land of Irkutsk with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr Mori, my colleague with whom we have formed a very warm personal relationship. And it gives me particular pleasure to tell you that here in Irkutsk we have made a new step towards establishing partnership between Russia and Japan.
The Prime Minister of Japan and I confirmed the importance of the Russian-Japanese dialogue at the top level. We confirmed the geopolitical importance of the relations between Russia and Japan, two authoritative and influential world powers. A constructive dialogue is important not only for us, but for the overall political stability of the world. And we assume that it will continue on a regular basis.
During the negotiations we discussed a wide range of issues in Russian-Japanese relations, and their prospects for the future in every field. In the field of business partnership we have agreed to take measures to speed up the program of deepening trade and economic cooperation, which we signed in Tokyo in October 2000. Mr Prime Minister has told me that this year will see a visit to Russia by representatives of the Japanese business world led by the Chairman of the Japanese Economic Federation.
When discussing the current problems of world politics we noted the growing similarity of our approaches to many global and regional issues. In particular, on strengthening strategic stability and especially nuclear disarmament, the situation in the Middle East, North East Asia, in the Balkans and other regions of the world.
It is important that we have reaffirmed our commitment to the deepening of Russian-Japanese cooperation in the world in line with the principles of the Joint Statement by the President of Russia and the Prime Minister of Japan of September 5, 2000.
The problem of the Peace Treaty was high on the meeting’s agenda. I would like to note the important results achieved in implementing the Krasnoyarsk accords, especially as regards increased Russian-Japanese cooperation on the Southern Kuril Islands. One of the key outcomes of our talks today is the signing of the Irkutsk statement on the continuation of talks on the peace treaty. I think it is extremely important that our dialogue on the most complicated aspect of bilateral relations will continue. And we have arrived at a common understanding of its main parameters. First, it will be conducted on the basis of the whole package of post-war agreements, including the Joint Declaration of 1956. And secondly, we share the view that if the negotiating process is to succeed it is necessary to maintain the atmosphere of mutual respect, confidence and cooperation in Russian-Japanese relations as a whole. We expect that we will soon be able to come down to determining the concrete paths of movement towards a peace treaty.
I have agreed with the Prime Minister’s proposal to expand the framework of the negotiating process, and to increase the number of participants not only by bringing in the staff of foreign ministries, but also the officials of other ministries and agencies in both countries who could steer the negotiating process to its logical conclusion with due account for the whole range of the relations between the two states.
I would like to stress that on the whole the Irkutsk summit was marked by an awareness of the need to make Russian-Japanese relations more dynamic. Our dialogue with Mr Mori today was noted for its openness and trust. I sincerely hope that the standard of relations we have achieved will be consolidated in the relations between our two peoples.
Question: A question for the President and the Prime Minister. You have signed the Irkutsk Statement today. It refers to the Japanese-Soviet Declaration of 1956. The declaration has been included in the Irkutsk statement. To confirm the 1956 Declaration as an effective document, does it mean that the issue of two of the four islands, Khabomai and Shikotan, has already been resolved? How will further negotiations proceed and how do you see the prospects?
Vladimir Putin: In our opinion, the 1956 Declaration is one of the key documents that form the basis of Russian-Japanese relations today. The declaration was ratified by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Parliament of our country; and Russia, as the legal successor to the Soviet Union, is complying with all the obligations assumed by the former USSR. But I would like to note that the 1956 Declaration is important, but not the only document that forms the basis of our relations. As for Section 9 of the declaration regarding the fate of the islands of Shikotan and Khabomai, additional work by experts of the two countries is needed to arrive at a common interpretation. It has to be said that the main thrust and meaning of the 1956 Declaration was to seal the end of the state of war between the two countries. It created the basis for establishing diplomatic relations and promoting these relations between our countries and set as the main goal the need to sign a peace treaty that would finally settle all the issues connected with border delimitation. Both my Japanese counterpart and I believe that we have the commitment and every reason to hope for a successful development of the dialogue. We are determined to continue our joint work.
Question: A question for both leaders. This is your sixth meeting. And in this connection could you give an assessment of the state of the Russian-Japanese dialogue and the prospects for the development of the relations between the two countries, in particular in the economic sphere?
Vladimir Putin: You made the right count, it is our sixth meeting with Mr Mori, and this is no accident. It shows the importance both Russia and Japan attach to the development of links between our states. It is very important for me that my colleague and friend, Mr Mori, takes it very seriously. The discussion today has shown that he is well versed in the nuances of the issues we discussed. To give a general answer to your question about economic ties, I would say the following.
Our position is that cooperation in these spheres must be intensified. Both Japan and the Russian Federation stand to gain from it. It will make our countries more stable, our economies more competitive and it will improve the living standards of the people in both countries. And the implementation of large-scale projects will undoubtedly create new jobs in Japan and in the Russian Federation.
We have identified several areas for joint activity, and in fact in some of them work has been underway for some time. They include cooperation in energy, in the broadest sense. It covers investments in the Russian energy sector, it covers supplies of our hydrocarbons and power to Japan. It covers our joint activities in the energy sphere in third countries. Another area is cooperation in high technology spheres, notably joint work in space. The prospects for Russian and Japanese partners are good. A working meeting of experts is to be held shortly in the framework of the commission that supervises that sphere.
We have discussed joint activities in fishing and the need for greater coordination between the law enforcement agencies in this and other spheres. We have agreed that during the course of that work we will have to secure the legitimate interests of both Russian and Japanese fishermen. We have discussed future projects in the field of transport infrastructure development. I repeat that both Japan and the Russian Federation will undoubtedly gain from the projects in these areas.
I am very grateful to my colleague, the Prime Minister of Japan, for his positive reaction to the possibility of broadening the activities of Japanese financial and credit institutions in the Russian Federation. I am confident that cooperation will develop positively and will benefit both our peoples.