Yoshiro Mori: Yesterday and today we had a frank exchange of opinions on a wide range of Japanese-Russian issues with Vladimir Putin. As a result we indicated our shared intention to continue the negotiations to conclude a peace treaty by resolving the question of the jurisdiction of the four Kuril Islands in accordance with all the earlier agreements, including the Tokyo and Moscow declarations. In 1997, an agreement was reached in Krasnoyarsk on the need to make every effort to conclude a peace treaty by 2000 in accordance with the Tokyo Declaration. President Putin and I have agreed to do everything to try to implement the Krasnoyarsk agreement and exert a maximum of effort to further consolidate the positive results. We set down our common position in the statement of the two leaders on the peace treaty issue.
In the economic field we have signed a new programme of cooperation, building on the Hashimoto-Yeltsin plan. Under that programme we want to bring bilateral economic ties to a level that matches the potential of the two countries. As a result of the reform efforts on the Russian side we hope the investment climate in Russia will further improve. Japan for its part will support these efforts.
In addition we have signed a joint statement on Russian-Japanese cooperation on international issues. Russian-Japanese cooperation in the international arena has great opportunities, and our countries have similar positions on many international issues. For example, Russia has said it will support Japan’s bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. On the eve of the UN Millennium Summit I find this Russian approach to constructive cooperation very encouraging. Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tokyo has provided a solid basis for further development of bilateral relations between Japan and Russia.
To conclude my opening remarks, let me once again thank the Russian President.
Vladimir Putin: The Japanese-Russian summit has ended today. We have discussed a wide range of bilateral problems, including the problem of the peace treaty. We have touched upon pressing international issues.
We discussed them on the basis of international law and with a view to strengthening the key role of the United Nations.
I would like to note the very friendly atmosphere that prevailed during the talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori. We have been able to discuss everything, including the most sensitive issues, in an absolutely frank, open manner and, in our view, a very productive manner.
I would like to share with you my main impression of the quality and the results of our meeting. Japan and Russia are entering the new millennium in a fundamentally new capacity. We are seeking partnership relations which we regard as strategic. This is borne out by the agreements that emerged from our talks and that my Japanese counterpart has mentioned. Our countries intend to build up their efforts in jointly seeking a solution to international and bilateral problems in the spirit of international law in the format of the United Nations and in the G8 format.
We have identified the following areas for further joint work: strengthening strategic stability, nuclear disarmament, prevention and settlement of conflicts, solution of regional problems, such as stability in North-East Asia, counteracting international terrorism and others.
We have agreed with the Prime Minister on our further joint moves on the whole range of issues pertaining to bilateral relations. Above all, we will seek to deepen our political dialogue. I have invited Yoshiro Mori to visit Moscow and I hope the visit will take place soon at a time convenient for the Japanese party. The Russian Defence Minister is to visit Japan. Another meeting of the Japanese-Russian inter-governmental trade and economic commission is to be held in Moscow. Having identified the main areas of our cooperation, we set them down in corresponding documents.
We also had a thorough discussion on the peace treaty, including border delimitation. We were united in our desire to solve the problem on a mutually acceptable basis in line with the Moscow and Tokyo declarations and other agreements previously reached at the summit level. We have frankly spelled out our positions and I am sure it has helped us to understand each other better. It should be noted that both Russia and Japan exerted great efforts to reach a compromise. That is how we assess the Japanese position expressed in Kavan in 1998. In our opinion, the Moscow proposals made that year are constructive. But it is true that for now we have not yet arrived at a final solution of all the issues related to the peace treaty.
Nevertheless, I believe it is exceedingly important and positive that both the Japanese and, I stress, the Russian party make no pretence that the problem does not exist and that we are ready to continue the dialogue on the sensitive problem for both countries. Especially since the conditions for that exist, I mean above all the fact that our countries are drawing closer together in the course of the creative partnership. It is important that the two sides expressed a commitment – and Russia is ready for it – to broaden cooperation in the islands area. We are absolutely convinced that it will improve the atmosphere around the negotiations and will eventually deliver mutually acceptable solutions.
I would like to make a special note of the warm welcome accorded us in Japan. I personally was greatly impressed by my meeting and talk with the Emperor and Empress of Japan. I appreciate the interest they have shown in Russia. I should emphasise – both for the Russian and the Japanese public – that we felt that all the people we have met in Japan were genuinely interested in all-round development of ties with Russia. And I have to tell you that the mood is similar in my country. And that means that Japanese-Russian relations have a good future. Confidence in the future is the best asset that we have today. I haven’t the slightest doubt that much of the credit for the significant success of our meeting goes to the atmosphere the Japanese Prime Minister has managed to create. And I would like to cordially thank you for this on behalf of the entire Russian delegation.
Question: The implementation of the Krasnoyarsk accords has now been put into question. Will new deadlines be set for resolving the territorial issue? And what are the main requirements for resolving the territorial problem?
Yoshiro Mori: During the past days Vladimir Putin and I had a frank dialogue on the basis of mutual trust and we revisited the territorial issue.
We have reaffirmed all the agreements, reached by our predecessors, including the Tokyo and Moscow declarations, which have been and remain the basis of negotiations. We have reaffirmed our shared intention to sign a peace treaty after resolving the issue of jurisdiction of the islands. President Vladimir Putin told me in no uncertain terms that the Joint Japanese-Soviet Declaration of 1956 is an agreement of the past.
As for future talks, we have agreed that we will use our best efforts to implement the Krasnoyarsk accord. The most important thing is that both sides will continue mutual frank dialogue on the basis of mutual trust, as was the case during the current visit by the Russian President.
Vladimir Putin: In reply to your question I would say the following: we, political leaders, and you, the media, share a huge responsibility. We must be very precise with our words and statements, and we must report them with perfect accuracy to the public in our countries. How we do it will go a long way to determine progress in resolving the issues that are of concern both to Russia and Japan.
Are the accords reached in Krasnoyarsk and set forth in the Moscow Declaration being fulfilled? To answer that question we should look at the language of the declaration. The last thing I want to do is to juggle with words and language, and, as a lawyer by training, I am used to reading documents. Let us have a look: “The leaders of the two countries reaffirm their resolve to exert every effort to conclude a peace treaty by 2000.” It does not say that Russia and Japan commit themselves to signing such a treaty, that they are obliged to sign a treaty. It says they will exert efforts to sign it. And now let us see if the leaders of the two countries have actually exerted efforts. Let us see what has been done in the period between 1997–1998 and today. Let us see what has been accomplished in the preceding 50 years or so to resolve the problem. And we will see and realise that the results of the previous period of nearly 50 years have been practically nil. Yet tremendous progress has been achieved in the past two years.
At the end of the day, why are we doing it? We are doing it for the sake of the people, the Russians and the Japanese. Until recently Japanese citizens complained that they could not visit the graves of their ancestors on the islands. Today they can do it freely without needing a visa. Until recently there was no question about working in the economic zone of these regions. The economic effect of its development may be as high as $1 billion a year. But today Japanese fishermen work in the area after corresponding agreements have been reached between the two states. Until recently there was no question of mutual exchanges between the present inhabitants of the islands and Japanese citizens. Now such exchanges take place freely. And if you are asking me whether these agreements have been fulfilled and are being fulfilled, I can reply in the affirmative: they are being fulfilled. But if we see in these documents what we want to see, we will mislead the public and create obstacles in the way of final settlement. Neither Russia nor Japan are interested in that.
Should any deadlines be set? I think it is not the question of deadlines but of the goodwill to solve complicated problems that we have inherited. Both Japan and Russia have the goodwill. My friend, the Prime Minister of Japan, has the goodwill, and I have the goodwill.
And the last part of your question: what should be done for a final resolution of the territorial problem? If we knew that, we would probably be answering different questions today. But let me tell you in a very general way how I see it.
I think we should create an atmosphere of trust, good-neighbourhood and cooperation in all areas. I think that all the actions connected with Japan should henceforth be perceived as actions corresponding to the national interests of Russia, and vice versa. Is that possible? I am sure it is not only possible, but it is going to happen if we look at the future and realise the alignment of forces in the world, and realise that Russia and Japan are interested not in being rivals, but in complementing each other.
Question: How do you see the relations between our countries 10 years from now?
Yoshiro Mori: Japanese-Russian relations have been steadily developing step by step in all spheres in recent years. At the previous summit with Vladimir Putin, we had a frank and constructive exchange of opinions in terms of simultaneous movement towards the solution of important strategic and geopolitical tasks related to large-scale cooperation and the conclusion of a peace treaty. I am sure that the Russian President and I have confirmed our intention to further strengthen the positive process that began recently. This is witnessed by the document we signed today, I mean, the joint statement on Japanese-Russian cooperation on international issues.
Bilateral cooperation in the economic field also has great potential. I hope that in the future cooperation in this field will develop gradually on the basis of the new trade and economic programme the Russian President and I signed today. The dynamics of the relations between Japan and Russia meet mutual interests.
I hope that if the process of deepening many-sided ties between our countries moves in this direction, a peace treaty will be signed on the basis of earlier agreements, and Japanese-Russian constructive partnership will enter a new phase.
There are no elements of confrontation in the Japanese-Russian relations. We have confirmed that, given this state of affairs, the only outstanding problem is territorial. President Putin has admitted that the problem has deep historical roots. Being mindful of this, of the agreements achieved and the latest talks, Vladimir Putin and I will try to resolve the territorial issue. We are not talking about setting a new deadline. There is still time before the end of 2000.
We should build our relations and improve them by overcoming difficult problems. We have agreed to pursue that goal.
Vladimir Putin: In principle I have already answered this question. I reaffirm what I have said so far and I subscribe to what my colleague, the Prime Minister of Japan, has just said.
I can only add that we should use every positive accord as a stepping stone towards harmonious cooperation in the future. We must make use of all the positive achievements.
I would like to see the relations with our eastern neighbour in 10–15 years’ time as the relations of partnership and cooperation in all areas of mutual interest. I am absolutely convinced that the fact that Japan and Russia need each other will be brought home forcibly both in the near historical term. They need each other because they can effectively complement each other. Our cooperation is not directed at any third countries. But being mutually complementary to each other undoubtedly offers colossal advantages both to Russia and Japan in the unfolding world competition. The development of relations between Russia and Japan meets the national interests of both states. I very much hope that in 15 years’ time we will have a solid practical confirmation of all this.