President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
We have just held substantial talks with Prime Minister of Japan Mr Abe.
We discussed in detail the key aspects of our bilateral cooperation and exchanged views on international issues. We gave particular emphasis to developing our bilateral business partnership.
Japan is our neighbour and is a natural partner for us. Our bilateral cooperation is developing rapidly, on the basis of trust and mutual benefit.
Our bilateral trade reached the record total of $32 billion last year. This is the highest result yet in our recent history. Our trade grew by 5 percent in 2012, and by a further 6 percent since the start of this year. Investment is growing too. Japanese companies have now invested $11 billion in the Russian economy.
We hope that the number of mutually advantageous projects will continue to grow. They will get support from the new joint fund we are setting up, the Russian-Japanese Investment Platform, which will have $1 billion in capital at its disposal.
Russia is a reliable supplier of energy to Japan. We are ready to build up our energy sector cooperation in all different areas.
We hope to see Japanese business take an active part as possible sub-contractors in a whole number of international projects.
Our industrial cooperation is developing too. Mazda cars are being produced in Vladivostok, and Mitsubishi has a car plant in Kaluga Region. Series production of Toyota cars began at the Sollers-Bussan plant in Primorye Territory in February, and Bridgestone and Mitsubishi will build a plant together in Ulyanovsk Region to manufacture car tires.
Japanese business is investing capital and technology in the Russian forestry and agribusiness sectors. A big timber and chemical plant equipped with the latest technology is being built in Krasnoyarsk Territory, for example, in a joint venture worth $3.5 billion in investment.
Our agricultural sector cooperation is growing and there are plans to develop joint ventures to produce and process pollution-free ecological foodstuffs.
There are good opportunities in the healthcare sector too. We will build the Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Centre in Russia, which will use the latest Russian and Japanese technology. The Takeda pharmaceutical plant, a project worth more than $100 million in investment, will start work in Yaroslavl in 2014.
Mr Abe and I spoke in detail about humanitarian contacts too, today. Japan hosts the annual Russian Culture Festival, and Russia hosts the Japanese Spring and Japanese Autumn festivals.
We are continuing our education sector contacts. The number of tourists travelling between our countries is growing rapidly too. We are completing the technical approvals concerning simplifying visa rules.
Of course we also discussed the peace treaty issue. We instructed our Foreign Ministries to step up contacts on reaching a mutually acceptable solution to this problem. The Joint Declaration on Developing Bilateral Partnership that we adopted at the end of our talks follows the same direction.
We discussed current international affairs, in particular the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
In conclusion, I want to thank Mr Abe and all of our Japanese friends for the constructive and business-like spirit in which our work took place today. I am sure that today’s talks will help to further strengthen and develop our cooperation.
Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe: There hasn’t been an official visit by a Japanese Prime Minister to Russia in the last ten years. First of all, I would like to sincerely thank President Putin, as well as all the Russian people, for giving us such a warm welcome.
The purpose of my current visit to Russia is, first, to show or demonstrate future opportunities for Japanese-Russian relations; second, to renew talks on the peace treaty; and third, to establish better, trust-based relations with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
I would like to tell you about the results in each of these areas.
First, regarding future opportunities in Japanese-Russian relations. As far as security and defence are concerned, we agreed to launch consultations between our foreign policy and defence agencies at the ministerial level employing the so-called ‘Two Plus Two’ formula. I very much hope that this will greatly increase the level of cooperation between our two nations, Japan and Russia, in providing security and defence.
With regard to economic relations, in order for Japan and Russia to continue to be able to cooperate for the good of developing Russia’s Far East and Eastern Siberia, in order for our two countries to create a vision of the future for these areas, we agreed to hold consultations on public-private partnerships in these territories.
During this current visit to Russia, I am accompanied by a most representative economic mission. Some of its members participated in the official lunch.
The second issue is the renewal of peace treaty negotiations. This time, President Putin and I confirmed our understanding that the existing situation of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia not being signed 67 years after the end of the [World] War, is not normal. Given this fact, we agreed to give our Foreign Ministries instructions to accelerate talks on designing a mutually acceptable resolution. In the future, President Putin and I will discuss this issue after receiving reports and presentations from our Foreign Ministries on the progress of the negotiations.
The negotiations on signing a peace treaty have been at a standstill for the last few years. But during today’s talks, we were able to agree that we will renew negotiations, and we will accelerate this process. I believe this is a major result of our meetings.
As for me personally, I will work on this matter directly, since it is the biggest unresolved issue between our two states. I will make every effort to resolve it.
And finally, this is my fourth meeting as Prime Minister with President Putin. This time, we were able to discuss a wide range of issues substantively, sincerely, heart-to-heart, including negotiations on the peace treaty. I very much feel that the two of us have established trust-based personal ties. We came to an agreement that in the future, we will intensify contacts between the national leaders, including mutual visits. I invited President Putin to come on an official visit to our country in 2014. President Putin expressed his gratitude for the invitation.
And so, this is the first official visit by the Prime Minister of Japan to Russia in ten years. President Putin and I adopted a joint statement on the development of Japanese-Russian partnership and were able to demonstrate what concrete cooperation between Japan and Russia can and should look like. I think that this is very significant. I am confident that my visit to Russia today has provided new momentum and indicated the long-term direction for further development in Japanese-Russian relations.
Our meeting, my talks with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin today have truly taken a very long time. And in conclusion, I wold like to once again express my gratitude to Mr Putin, President of the Russian Federation.
Question: I have a question for both leaders. One could say that following today’s talks, we witnessed a kind of breakthrough; in other words, a decision has basically been made on renewing peace treaty negotiations. They have been at a standstill since 2001.
What effect will this have on the development of bilateral economic ties? Does it mean that the peace treaty and territorial problems are being separated so that further talks on this aspect of our relations will be held in parallel to and not interfering with the advancement of Russian-Japanese relations, particularly in the economic arena?
Vladimir Putin: We agreed to intensify efforts in all areas, on all tracks. As Mr Prime Minister just stated, this includes signing a peace treaty. Of course this assumes we must offer conditions to make this a process that does not aggravate bilateral relations, but instead, supports them. So our bilateral economic ties are the best instrument for resolving this problem, as is the development of humanitarian contacts. Together, they promote very good conditions that increase trust and bring us closer to resolving the most difficult problems.
Shinzo Abe: With regard to Japanese-Russian relations and economic ties, for the last ten years, they have truly progressed quite intensively. As for Japanese-Russian relations in general, this is one of the most promising bilateral relationships. These bilateral relations hold perhaps the greatest potential of possibilities.
Thus, a peace treaty is certainly very important for continuing to expand our bilateral relations intensively in the future.
Today, President Putin and I agreed that the two sides would strive to overcome various problems. We share the same view on this matter. Each of us will give instructions to our Foreign Ministries, and then we will hold discussions between the two leaders. Then, we will once again give instructions to our Foreign Ministries. This way, the process will continue to develop. And the fact that we were able to agree on the need to accelerate this process is very significant.
As I already remarked, a large number of business leaders from my country accompanied me on this visit to Moscow. And our business communities are already reaching certain results. This development will provide the opportunity to continue intensively advancing the process of reaching a peace treaty.
Question: I would like to ask about the peace treaty negotiations. How quickly do you think this negotiation process will progress in the future? Also, you said that you plan to meet in the future, for example within the framework of the G8 and G20, as well as, for example, within the framework of the meeting between heads of APEC member-states. In any case, what meetings may happen this year, and progress is foreseen?
Shinzo Abe: President Putin and I agreed that each of us will instruct our Foreign Ministries on the need to accelerate a search for solutions and mutually acceptable resolution to this issue.
As for the negotiation processes on this matter, yes, it has indeed been at a standstill for the last few years. But today, we were able to agree on the need to renew these negotiations and accelerate this negotiation process. It has been 67 years since the end of the war, but nevertheless, this issue remains unresolved. It is indeed a difficult issue. And there is no magic wand in the world that could resolve this problem in one instant.
It is also true that there is a rather significant divergence between the two nations’ positions. In order to resolve all this, it is imperative to engage in unhurried, substantive negotiations. Mr Putin and I were able to discuss a wide range of issues during this meeting quite substantively, sincerely and without holding anything back. It is imperative to establish relations of personal trust between heads of state. This is very important.
And I do feel that during this visit, President Putin and I established such relations of personal trust. This issue, this problem is impossible to resolve without decisiveness on the part of our two national leaders.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to add to this.
First of all, I want to agree that over the course of recent years, the peace treaty negotiations have essentially stalled. And today, we were able to reach agreements on renewing contacts concerning this matter.
Of course, this does not mean that we will resolve everything tomorrow, given that we have been unable to solve this problem in 67–68 years. But in any event, we will continue working on the matter, which is very complicated but highly important for both sides.
Question: We know that since the nuclear power plant tragedy, Japanese energy is experiencing serious problems. How much is Russia prepared to help, how much is energy in general an important factor right now for economic relations between the two states?
And could you perhaps name some of the projects in the Far East taking the lead in this cooperation within the framework of helping Japan in the energy sector? Perhaps a LNG-producing plant, for example?
Vladimir Putin: Of course, we are aware that our Japanese friends are facing a major problem. If my information is correct, only two out of 50 major nuclear power plant units are currently in operation. And Mr Abe’s government certainly faces some very difficult issues and challenges. There has been a significant shortfall in electricity generation and we fully understand this.
Russia’s oil and gas reserves are large enough and we are capable of supplying the Japanese economy’s growing needs without any negative effect on our traditional partners and Russia’s own developing economy.
We are neighbours, so in terms of logistics and geographic proximity, this kind of cooperation is entirely logical, clear and effective. It could involve joint extraction of oil and gas or joint construction of liquefaction plants. Gazprom is prepared to invest its resources into new gas delivery capacity to Japan, and invest money into pipeline systems on Japan’s territory.
We are prepared to look into building additional energy capacity on Russia’s territory, subsequently delivering electrical energy to Japan.
In this respect, we can work together in the shipbuilding sector as well, to create capacity in the Far East for building tankers to supply LNG to our Japanese partners.
Finally, it is possible to work together in renewable energy sources. This work can certainly advance our economic cooperation significantly.
Shinzo Abe: Regarding the question of energy cooperation, Japanese-Russian economic cooperation already rests heavily on this sector. Currently, ten percent of Japan’s natural gas is imported from Russia. If we continue developing this area in the future, if we increase exports of these products to Japan, it will mean broadening Russia’s sales market; and for Japan, it will mean diversifying import source-countries for acquiring these products. It will also lead to reducing expenditures on obtaining fuel in Japan. So I believe that we can establish relations in this sector that will be mutually beneficial to both countries.
So as far as the energy sector is concerned, as well as natural gas and oil – energy overall – I expect that in the future we can expand mutually beneficial relations even further.
Question: I have a question to both heads of state.
First, a question to Prime Minister Abe. So long as the territorial dispute over the northern territories remains unresolved, the Russian side is developing and setting up the infrastructure in these islands. For example, companies, including foreign companies or ones with foreign participation, are advancing projects in construction, as well as building geothermal stations and other facilities. In other words, the islands are still essentially governed by Russia. This reality is unacceptable for the Japanese side. How would you comment on this situation?
And my question for President Putin. Does Russia intend to continue such a policy in those territories? If so, then how, in your opinion, this may influence the peace treaty negotiation process with Japan?
Shinzo Abe: Yes, as far as the current situation is concerned, it does not align with the Japanese side’s position. But our joint statement with President Putin includes language about how the sides will strive to overcome the disputes in our two nations’ positions.
In order to fundamentally resolve the situation, the only thing we should do is resolve the issues pertaining to the northern territories. President Putin and I agreed today that we will accelerate this negotiation process. This means that we will speed up the peace treaty negotiation process.
Vladimir Putin: I noticed that you conscientiously read your question from a piece of paper. I would like to request that you say the following to those who dictated this question to you: we did not create this problem. We have inherited it from the past and it is nearly 100 years ago. We genuinely want to resolve it in a way that is acceptable to both sides.
If you want to help us, you can: you must create conditions of good will toward one another and a trusting environment.
But if you want to get in the way, which is also possible, then you can ask harsh, direct questions to which you will always receive equally harsh, direct answers. How else can it be? In this case, I would like to say that the residents of these territories are Russian citizens just like all our other citizens living anywhere else. We are obligated to think about them, to think about their living standards.
The Russian Federation’s official position on signing a peace treaty is well-known, but we did not gather here to discuss it today. Instead, we gathered to renew peace treaty negotiations and find ways to solve this problem.