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Press statements following Russian-Japanese talks

April 27, 2017, The Kremlin, Moscow

Following their talks, Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made statements for the press.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Prime Minister,

These talks with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe were constructive in nature. Let me say right away that both sides showed their desire to continue developing our mutually advantageous and multifaceted cooperation.

Japan is an important and promising partner for Russia and we are ready to work together to settle all issues, even the most complicated ones in our bilateral relations based on the principles of mutual respect, equality, and consideration of each other’s interests.

Today, first in a narrow format, and then with the participation of key ministers and heads of big companies, we discussed in detail the current state of Russian-Japanese ties, examined the results of implementing the agreements reached during my visit to Japan last December, and outlined our immediate and longer-term cooperation priorities.

Mr Abe and I noted with satisfaction that our bilateral contacts have intensified of late. Thus, the 2+2 meetings between our foreign and defence ministers have resumed, our security councils are developing their dialogue, and there is growing cooperation between our parliaments.

It is good to see that after undergoing a downturn, our economic cooperation is now picking up again. In January and February this year, we saw growth in our bilateral trade. Total Japanese investment in Russia is growing too. In 2015, it came to 1.3 billion, and last year, it reached 1.7 billion.

Japan is an important and promising partner for Russia and we are ready to work together to settle all issues, even the most complicated ones in our bilateral relations based on the principles of mutual respect, equality, and consideration of each other’s interests.

The Intergovernmental Commission has coordinated and is implementing an ambitious joint action plan and an overall list of 80 priority projects in industry, agriculture, the infrastructure, innovation, small business, and humanitarian exchanges.

The new Russian-Japanese Investment Fund with a capital of $1 billion will provide financial support for carrying out our bilateral business initiatives. The Investment Agency and the Far East Development Fund, together with the Japanese International Cooperation Bank, will help with investment in Russia’s Far East.

Of course, we discussed in detail with our Japanese partners the deepening of our cooperation in the strategic energy sector. Russia is a reliable energy supplier for Japan and accounts for around 8 percent of Japan’s domestic liquefied natural gas market.

Japanese business, for its part, is involved in developing the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 oil and gas fields and in building a liquefied natural gas plant on the Yamal Peninsula. I spoke with Prime Minister Abe about our joint plans to build the Sakhalin-Hokkaido gas pipeline, an energy bridge for electricity supplies from Russia to Japan, and to work together on renewable and non-traditional energy sources. The implementation of these promising projects will give Japanese consumers new energy resources delivered via the shortest routes and at affordable prices.

There are good prospects for our cooperation in the nuclear energy sector. Russia is ready to help Japan to rebuild the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant and offers cutting edge technology for cleaning up contaminated soil and treating radioactive waste.

During the talks, we discussed deeper industrial cooperation. Russia today offers a highly comfortable environment for attracting advanced technology and developing innovative new production. The special economic zones in the priority development areas in the Far East offer investors tax holidays and simplified administrative procedures, and the state authorities are financing infrastructure modernisation. We hope that our Japanese partners will make full use of these unique opportunities. This will give them not only direct access to the Russian market but also to consumers in the Eurasian Economic Union and the CIS.

We look forward to active participation by Japanese companies and the Japanese banking sector in Russia’s biggest economic forums, the St Petersburg Forum and the Eastern Forum. We value Japan’s decision to take part in the INNOPROM 2017 international industrial fair in Yekaterinburg as a partner country.

We welcome renewed activity in our interregional ties. This visit saw the signing of a cooperation agreement between Krasnodar Territory and Yamaguti Prefecture, thereby taking implementation of the Japanese Prime Minister’s personal initiative that he put forward last December into its final stage.

We noted an increase in cultural and humanitarian exchanges. The Russian Seasons festival will open in Japan in June. It will reach out to 40 towns with a total of 250 different events. They will bring to the Japanese public some of the best samples of Russian culture and art. I was very happy when Prime Minister Abe kindly agreed to take part in the opening of this festival in Tokyo. Next year, we have agreed to hold reciprocal years of Russia and Japan in our countries.

Of course, we discussed the peace treaty issue. A solution to this issue must be in the strategic interests of both countries and be accepted by both peoples. In this context, we discussed the possibilities for joint economic activity in the Southern Kuril Islands, as was agreed with Mr Abe when I was in Tokyo last December. We agreed to continue the joint work and will soon put together a list of priority projects. A trip by Japanese businesspeople and officials to the South Kuril Islands will be organised this summer to study specific cooperation opportunities.

Russia will also organise direct flights for former Japanese residents of the islands to visit their family graves. Mr Abe and I have discussed solutions to these humanitarian issues on many occasions now. He raised these issues and I agree with him that we should settle them. I hope that this will help to build greater trust and mutual understanding between our countries.

Of course, we also gave much attention to international issues. We discussed cooperation in multilateral organisations, particularly the UN and its Security Council, where Japan is a non-permanent member [in 2016–2017].

We discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula, which, we both agreed, has degraded considerably, to our regret. We call on all countries involved in the region’s affairs to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and work towards calm and constructive dialogue. We see swift resumption of the six-party talks as our common task.

In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr Abe and to our Japanese colleagues for this engaged and business-like discussion. We agreed to continue our contacts in Vladivostok on the sidelines of the third Eastern Economic Forum, and I hope to have another chance to meet at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

Thank you for your attention.

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (retranslated): I am pleased to be able to visit Moscow four years after my last visit. I wholeheartedly thank President Putin and the Russian people for their warm hospitality.

First, I would like to express my grief over the barbaric terrorist attack in the St Petersburg metro, as well as my sympathy to those who were wounded, and to wish them a speedy recovery. This kind of terrorist act is an attack against all of humanity, and I strongly condemn it. In these difficult times, Japan is with you, Russia. Japan, together with Russia and the international community, will make its contribution to the fight against terrorism.

In December 2016, I welcomed President Putin in Nagato. It was snowing. In my home town, President Putin read a letter written by former residents of the islands, former residents of the northern territories, the four northern islands, in which they shared their pain and innermost thoughts. President Putin's eyes were focused and serious. I still remember very well the expression in your eyes and the way you looked. People wrote, ”I want to be able to freely visit the grave of my ancestors, my native land, and I want to greet the morning in my small homeland.“

It was decided for the first time in history (at the news conference, President Putin frankly admitted that he was deeply moved by that letter) to arrange a flight for the families of former residents of the islands to visit the graves of their relatives. I want former residents of the islands to visit the graves of their ancestors on Kunashir and Iturup on a fine day in June. For many years, there has been only one point of entry and departure, but now the number of such points will increase. We agreed that such a point would open near the islands of Habomai this year. I would like this to happen as soon as August.

We also had an in-depth discussion about joint economic activities on the four northern islands. Japanese and Russian citizens will join efforts to produce fish and sea urchins, and develop the unique tourist opportunities of the four northern islands, including nature tourism. This will improve living standards and comfort for local Russian citizens, and will also create many new opportunities for Japanese people who will come there to engage in commerce. We have hopes for that and would like to create such a future together.

As a first step, we agreed to send a delegation with representatives of the government and private circles before the end of May. Representatives of both countries will begin to work on identifying specific projects. We will start small and eventually achieve great success in our joint economic activity. Our common efforts also focus on a peace treaty, which Vladimir and I are striving to achieve. This is a mutually beneficial historic attempt. Vladimir and I would like to strengthen mutual trust between our nations using a new approach that does not rely on old ideas, and conclude a peace treaty. Based on mutual respect and mutual benefits, as well as mutual trust, working hand in hand, Vladimir and I want to embark on the path to concluding a peace treaty.

As for the eight-point cooperation plan that I proposed last year in Sochi, it is moving forward. The President and I discussed cooperation in medical care and the urban environment. We will continue to flesh out our cooperation plans so that many Russian people can actually see progress in Japanese-Russian relations.

In 2018, the Year of Japan in Russia and the Year of Russia in Japan are due to be held simultaneously. It is an important event for the rapid expansion of bilateral cultural ties and we hope that through culture more Japanese people will come to appreciate Russia and more Russian people will feel even greater affinity for the Japanese.

Vladimir, in my hometown, Nagato, we declared our honest determination to resolve the issue of a peace treaty with our own hands. Four months have passed since then and I have come to Moscow, fulfilling my promise. During these four months tangible, step-by-step progress has been made toward our shared goal. Based on the Nagato agreement, we will intensify these steps toward our ultimate goal.

At today’s meeting with the President, we discussed the North Korea issue for quite a long time. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an important partner of the six-party talks. President Putin and I agreed that Japan and Russia will continue their close cooperation and urge North Korea to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions and refrain from further provocative action.

The world is faced with challenging issues such as the situation in Syria and the fight against terrorism, which cannot be resolved without Russia’s constructive role. We had a serious and frank discussion about how Japan and Russia should cooperate in the international community.

Vladimir and I have agreed about the next one-on-one meeting during the G20 summit in Hamburg in July. I am also looking forward to meeting him at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September. This year, we will take advantage of all opportunities to move Japanese-Russian relations forward in a large number of areas. I am reaffirming this commitment now.

Thank you.

April 27, 2017, The Kremlin, Moscow