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Press statements following talks with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe

September 7, 2017, Vladivostok

Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe made statements for the press following Russian-Japanese talks.

Before making final statements for the press, a package of bilateral documents was signed in the presence of the two leaders.

* * *

Press statements following talks with Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

We are happy to welcome such a representative delegation from Japan here at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok for the second time. The impressive presence of our Japanese partners at the forum is becoming a good tradition.

This is a great opportunity to discuss the joint projects we are already implementing and map out new plans. I invited the Prime Minister of Japan to take part in another major international economic forum – the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in late May 2018.

Prime Minister Abe accepted our invitation. We also agreed to attend the opening of the reciprocal years of Russia and Japan together on May 26 in Moscow.

As for these talks, they were substantive and straightforward. Both sides demonstrated their desire to develop constructive cooperation in various areas.

I would like to note that recently we have managed to restore a number of mechanisms for Russian-Japanese political dialogue. In March our foreign and defence ministers resumed their consultations in the two-plus-two format.

The heads of our national security councils held talks before our meeting today. Mr Abe and I have agreed that the Chief of the Russian General Staff [Valery Gerasimov] and the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Land Forces [Oleg Salyukov] will visit Japan soon.

Positive trends have been reported in our trade and economic cooperation. Mutual trade increased by almost 15 percent in the first six months of this year and reached $8.4 billion.

The structure of our bilateral trade is improving. The share of fuel and energy is decreasing in Russia’s exports to Japan, while the volume of foods and agricultural products, as well as non-ferrous metals and chemical goods, is increasing.

During our meeting, we highly assessed the eight-point cooperation plan that was proposed by Prime Minister Abe and the joint list of priority projects.

The Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, the High-Level Group and the Advisory Council on Energy have been working effectively.

Russian and Japanese business activity will be boosted by the Convention on Avoiding Double Taxation, which we signed a short while ago.

Japan’s participation in the INNOPROM 2017 exhibition in Yekaterinburg as a Partner Country has produced practical results. We are looking forward to welcoming our Japanese partners at the INNOPROM exhibition next year.

I would like to say that Japanese companies make extensive use of the advantages of doing business in priority development areas. In April 2016, a greenhouse farm was launched in the Khabarovsk Territory jointly with JGC Evergreen and the Hokkaido Bank. Plans provide for buildings three more such complexes.

We are implementing the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 oil and gas projects. We have built Russia’s first gas liquefaction plant, which exports the bulk of its products to Japan. Work is underway at Sakhalin LNG to build the third production line.

We are building up our cooperation in nuclear energy. We hope that the joint projects to clear up the consequences of the Fukushima accident will be coordinated by the end of the year.

Our talks with Mr Prime Minister also included discussions of a promising idea of direct railway communication between our countries. However, this calls for additional in-depth analysis.

We are promoting cooperation in education. We appreciate the activities of the Association of Russian and Japanese Universities, which has sponsored a Russian-Japanese student symposium, which is currently underway in Vladivostok.

Our cultural and humanitarian ties have grown stronger and are promoting the development of a positive atmosphere and mutual trust in bilateral relations. In June, Prime Minister Abe attended the opening of Russian Seasons in Tokyo. The 12th Festival of Russian Culture opened there in July. In November, Japan will attend the St Petersburg International Cultural Forum as a guest.

We are promoting sports cooperation. After the planned events end at Far Eastern Federal University, Mr Abe and I will attend the International Jigoro Kano Junior Judo Tournament and the ground-breaking ceremony for the Martial Arts Centre on Russky Island.

We also discussed the question of the peace treaty, including the possibility of joint economic operation on the South Kurils. Following the August 17 talks between our foreign ministries in Moscow, we have selected several promising projects that will be implemented as a priority. They concern above all cooperation in aquaculture, wind power, greenhouse farms, household waste recycling and package tours.

As agreed with Mr Prime Minister, this year the process for Japanese citizens to visit the burial sites of their relatives in the South Kurils was simplified as much as possible. Many of you know that, regrettably, the first direct flight for this purpose had to be cancelled due to bad weather. Now a similar trip is planned this month, and I hope the weather will not let us down this time.

Naturally, much attention at the talks was paid to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. We discussed this issue during our September 3 telephone conversation and today continued this substantive discussion.

We strongly denounced the launch of the North Korean medium-range missile that flew over Japan on August 28 and the next nuclear test on September 3. We understand and share the concern of the Japanese side. Needless to say, by its actions Pyongyang is creating a serious threat to peace and security in the entire region.

I reaffirmed to the Prime Minister our position that the situation on the Korean Peninsula and, particularly, the nuclear issue can only be settled by political and diplomatic means.

To begin with, it is necessary to reduce the general tensions and then develop a dialogue between the interested parties as has been proposed, for example, in the Russian-Chinese roadmap for a step-by-step settlement.

On the whole, the talks with Mr Abe were meaningful and very useful, in particular for the further development of bilateral cooperation in many areas.

I would like to express my gratitude for this to Mr Prime Minister and all the members of the Japanese delegation.

Thank you for your attention.

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (retranslated): I gave you my word a year ago and now I have come back to this beautiful city of Vladivostok. I appreciate the warm welcome extended to me by the Russian side.

At today’s meeting with President Putin, we had a thorough exchange of opinions on North Korea, which is now a major threat that requires urgent response.

The nuclear tests conducted by North Korea pose a serious threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and are a major challenge to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Our opinions fully coincide on this matter. I most strongly condemn North Korea for the launch of the ballistic missile and for conducting the largest nuclear test in its history.

If North Korea persists on this path, it will not have a bright future. We must convey this message to North Korea and make it change its policy.

Japan and Russia share the view that we will continue to cooperate closely, including at the UN Security Council.

In the past year, we have made significant progress in bilateral relations. Under the eight-point cooperation plan, which the Russian President and I are promoting, we have achieved results in over 50 projects.

These include the plan for the development of Vladivostok to transform it into a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, cooperation in digital economy and healthcare, and creating a $1 billion framework for supporting projects.

An updated agreement has been signed on taxation. We will take further efforts to achieve mutually beneficial results under our eight-point cooperation plan.

As regards the issue of the four islands, we have made progress following a top-level meeting in Nagato last December. We want the people of both countries to actively travel and see each other and cooperate to mutual benefit on the four islands. We want former residents of the islands to be able to visit their homeland and their ancestors’ gravesites.

If we truly wish to see such a future, we will be able to overcome things of the past, which have remained dead in the water for over 70 years now, to make real this new approach where we will conduct joint economic activity on four islands, which is what we are now discussing.

Building on the agreement reached in Nagato in December 2016, this time we identified five projects, which must be carried out as soon as possible: aquaculture and seafood projects, greenhouse vegetable growing projects, developing customised tourist programmes with account taken of the islands’ specifics, introducing wind power generation, and a waste cutting project.

We will quickly finalise these five projects, and speed up the consideration of arrangements for the movement of people. We will continue talks about other projects as well.

Acting upon President Putin’s instructions, in August, we were able to organise visits to the graves and the adjacent grounds, which were previously off-limits. The head of the delegation said he was 120 percent satisfied with this trip.

The first ever visit to the graves by a plane is scheduled for the end of September. For all this, I want to convey to you words of gratitude from former inhabitants of the islands. Vladimir, thank you very much. Let us continue to improve the organisation of such visits from the humanitarian point of view.

It is important to strengthen contacts between people. Next year, we will hold the Year of Japan in Russia and the Year of Russia in Japan. The opening ceremony will be held on May 26, 2018, at the Bolshoi Theatre, which has had a great tradition in performing arts over several centuries. Let us make 2018 a year of mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples.

”The most important thing for Japanese-Russian relations is the conclusion of a peace treaty,“ President Putin said during his visit to Japan. This time we are determined to bring about the signing of the peace treaty.

Vladimir and I agreed to hold another meeting during the APEC summit in Vietnam in November. We intend to take advantage of every opportunity to maintain a dialogue between us.

September 7, 2017, Vladivostok