Press Statements and Answers to Journalists’ Questions at a Joint Press Conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi 2003-01-10 00:00:00 The Kremlin, Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Dear ladies and gentlemen. I am very glad to once again welcome the Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizumi, and the representative Japanese delegation to the Moscow Kremlin. This meeting has a special significance for the development of relations between our countries. Russia and Japan are states whose role in world affairs is exceptionally great. And in this sense we consider it necessary to conduct a continual dialogue at the highest level and check our positions on key issues of regional and international politics. The talks passed constructively and made it possible to determine the basic guidelines for Russian-Japanese cooperation both for the coming years and for the long term. We also attach great significance to the signing of the Joint Statement on the Adoption of the Plan of Action for Developing Russian-Japanese Relations. This document embraces practically all the areas of our cooperation. It is forward-looking and demonstrates our common desire to deepen bilateral ties consistently and systemically. I am convinced that the implementation of the tasks set in the Plan of Action will help to take Russian-Japanese relations to a new level. In the course of the talks we reiterated our countries' striving to cooperate in the solution of global issues now facing the world community. Among them: fighting international terrorism, nuclear disarmament and maintaining the non-proliferation regimes, and enhancing the United Nations role. Prime Minister Koizumi and I discussed in detail the prospects for the development of business cooperation between our countries. A decision was taken to instruct our agencies to analyze the possibilities for stepping up work on a whole series of key areas of trade and economic ties. This concerns, first and foremost, promotion of investment cooperation and the development and transportation of the energy resources of Eastern Siberia and Russia's Far East. There are quite a few interesting projects in the field of high technologies too, in particular – in the area of telecommunications and communication. We also attach great importance to the development of interregional contacts, and traditionally we pay serious attention to humanitarian cooperation. In this connection I would like to note that we've actively backed up the idea of holding a Japanese Culture Festival in Russia in 2003. Of course, during the talks, especially tete-a-tete, we discussed the peace treaty problem. We again reaffirmed the importance of carrying forward our dialogue consistently and looking for ways to reach an agreement. That solution should be mutually acceptable and take the interests of our countries and peoples into account comprehensively. We intend to continue to develop a vigorous political dialogue, as well as a dialogue in the military sphere. Work will be continued between the foreign affairs agencies of the two countries. Soon we expect a visit to be paid to Moscow by the Japanese Defense Agency head, Mr Shigeru Ishiba. In conclusion I would like to emphasize that the consultations were held on a very good level and in a very candid atmosphere. And we've agreed that tonight we will have yet another opportunity to continue the exchange of views with the Prime Minister in an informal setting. Our guests still have a big program, both tomorrow in Moscow, and a visit to Khabarovsk Region. I want to express hope that this work will be substantial and interesting for our Japanese friends. Thank you. Junichiro Koizumi: I visited the Russian Federation this time strongly resolved to breathe new life into Japan-Russia relations and to make this year a one in which Japan-Russia relations will enter a new stage. Today, President Putin and I discussed a wide range of issues in a relaxed atmosphere and agreed on the Japan-Russia Action Plan. The Japan-Russia Action Plan is our common policy for advancing forward in all areas in relations between Japan and the Russian Federation and will serve as our ”navigational chart“ in our bilateral relations in the future. First of all, regarding the issue of concluding a peace treaty, we confirmed our determination that, based on the agreements reached thus far, relations between our countries should be fully normalized by solving the issue of the attribution of the four islands and concluding a peace treaty at the earliest possible date. Taking advantage of this summit we agreed to accelerate the negotiations toward concluding the peace treaty, including at the leaders level. I intend to devote my utmost to resolve this issue, which is a difficult legacy from the past and the foremost concern between Japan and Russia. Second, I spoke with President Putin about important issues facing the international community such as North Korea and Iraq. I firmly sensed that there are many issues on which Japan and Russia agree. We confirmed that we would continue to strengthen our cooperation in the international arena. In particular, regarding North Korea, it is extremely regrettable that today North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). We confirmed that this is a matter of grave concern, that we will call on North Korea to swiftly retract that decision, and we agreed to make efforts to realize a peaceful solution to this issue. Furthermore, we confirmed that solving various issues that remain between Japan and North Korea, including the abduction issue and security issues, based on the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration is important for easing tensions in the region. Regarding Iraq, we agreed to urge that unconditional and unrestricted inspections be continued and that Iraq comply with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. Third, we discussed cooperation in economic areas and agreed to advance cooperation, especially in developing and transporting resources in the Far East and Siberian regions. I intend to visit St. Petersburg at the end of May when it celebrates its 300th anniversary. Together with this tercentennial, cultural events are scheduled to take place in regions all around Russia to introduce Japan under the auspices of the ”Japanese Culture Festival in Russia 2003.“ I look forward to this year being a dynamic year for promoting cooperation between Japan and Russia and enhancing mutual understanding. In closing, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to President Putin and the people of Russia for the warm welcome that we have received. Question: Shortly before the start of your talks the reports came in that North Korea had announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. On your part, what concrete actions are likely in this matter? And one more question to Mr Putin. The Plan of Action says that Russia will render assistance in normalizing relations between Japan and North Korea. I would like to hear what your approach to this problem is. Vladimir Putin: With regard to the nuclear programs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Russia advocates a nuclear-free regime for the Korean Peninsula, the preservation and strengthening of the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Our position on this issue is principled and invariable. At the same time we had a close look at the statement of the North Korean side and took notice of the fact that the DPRK leadership leaves the door for negotiations open. We expect that it is precisely in the course of the negotiations that all the questions and concerns of all the parties can be removed, and will. As to our participation in the process of a full-scale re-establishment of relations between the DPRK and Japan, we are ready to do all in our power for this process to develop in an ongoing way and actively. We are in constant contact with the Prime Minister on this issue, just as we are with the North Korean side. And in this connection I cannot but note the courageous and very correct, effective move of the Japanese Prime Minister, directed to the restoration of relations with North Korea — I mean his recent visit to Pyongyang. I think this was a very expressive gesture of desire for peace, for the development of relations in the region, and to my mind — it was a productive move. I am confident that it has created a good prospect, a good basis for developing bilateral relations, even in dealing with the questions which earlier were practically not discussed by the North Korean side but at the same time are very sensitive for our Japanese partners. Despite all the complexity of the problems which we encounter on the Korean Peninsula, it seems to me that they can be solved through negotiation. Question: Today a Russian-Japanese Plan of Action was adopted at the highest level. What do you think constitutes the principled novelty of this document and how will it influence the concrete aspects of cooperation, including those in the trade and economic sphere? Vladimir Putin: I must say that we attach very great importance to the signing of this document. For a long time we did not have this kind of talks with our Japanese partners either. With other countries, strictly speaking, we have no similar documents. The document represents a kind of basis for developing interaction practically in all the areas of our cooperation. Not least in the field of economy. Today I already spoke of growth areas. The Plan of Action is, in the Prime Minister's figurative phrase, a ”guiding map“ which gives us an opportunity to develop and deepen relations under individual agreements in key areas for us. So that the chief novelty is that the plan has a comprehensive character. Question: The main unresolved issue is the territorial question. Within the framework of the work of the Big Eight, a call was issued on Russia to respond to the sincere expectations of the Japanese people. What can you say on that score? Vladimir Putin: With regard to the interests of the people, I would like to say the following. When the political or intellectual elites of this or that country want to advance a solution — they always refer to the interests of the people. In so doing, regrettably, not always do we bother to find out just what are the interests of the people, of whom we speak. I am profoundly convinced that it meets the interests of the Russian and Japanese peoples, the implementation of the tasks we set in the Plan of Action, namely — fostering cooperation and coordination in all, including very sensitive, fields. Of course, this aim cannot be achieved unless we treat each other with respect. That's how the Russian side intends to build work with Japan, including on the problem of concluding a peace treaty. Today during the meeting in a narrow composition Mr Prime Minister gave a sufficiently figurative, interesting and informative account of the history of Russian-Japanese relations. I am convinced that bilateral ties between Russia and Japan have good prospects, a good future. Naturally we will attain this only if we adopt decisions by taking the interests of both countries into account. I agree also that no fair settlement can be achieved without taking into account the entire range of accords we now have. It is necessary, furthermore, to remember as a result of what events and what decisions these islands found themselves under Russian jurisdiction. Mr Prime Minister insisted that the entire range of accords reached in recent years must be placed at the base of further work — and we have agreed with this proposal of the Japanese side. We will strive to ensure that Russian-Japanese relations are devoid of all irritating elements. This statement does not bear an ad hoc character and it is not aimed at obtaining momentary economic advantages from cooperation. On the contrary, we are anxious to build relations with Japan for the long term because we are utterly convinced that this meets our and Japanese national interests. And considering the sensitiveness of this issue both for the one and for the other side, the sole correct solution will be the execution of the Plan of Action which we today signed and which must create necessary conditions: the conditions of good-neighborliness, cooperation and coordination in all the fields of mutual interest. And despite the complexity of this problem, I think that if we act in this spirit, we will achieve a positive result here as well.