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Opening of Cross Years of Russia and Japan

May 26, 2018, Moscow

Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe attended the opening ceremony of the Cross Years of Russia and Japan following their talks at the Kremlin.

The Cross Years of Russia and Japan is a package of events in politics, the economy, science, culture and art, as well as in the sphere of student exchanges. The Cross Years aim to strengthen mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries and developing good-neighbourly ties in the long-term.


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

My congratulations on the opening of the Year of Russia in Japan and the Year of Japan in Russia. This is a remarkable and significant event for our countries and peoples.

The Russian-Japanese Cross Years are being held for the first time. They were initiated by our Japanese colleagues, and we supported this initiative, of course.

Russian Government ministries, public, political, and business circles in cooperation with partners from Japan, made every effort to translate the idea of holding the Year of Russia in Japan and the Year of Japan in Russia into action.

The program of the Cross Years is rather busy and includes numerous events that reflect the rich history, culture and authentic traditions of the people of Russia and Japan, as well as the modern life of our countries and their achievements in their economies, science, education, healthcare, and sports.

I am confident that the Cross Years will activate cooperation in various spheres and develop direct friendly contacts between people, and will raise the level of mutual trust between our nations as well as strengthen the basis of bilateral interaction.

The plans include business forums, conferences and seminars, where entrepreneurs and financial experts will address the issues of expanding industrial cooperation and discus joint projects.

Many events will take place in the Russian Far East, and this is only natural. Japanese investors have long and successfully worked there, taking part in high-tech projects implemented in areas of priority development. Of course, this positive experience should be encouraged and expanded to other regions of our country.

We currently devote much attention to developing closer interaction between representatives of expert and non-governmental organisations and the scientific and artistic communities. The programme of the Years includes numerous contacts between members of parliaments and scientific, student and youth exchanges.

We know that the Japanese traditionally show a sincere interest in our culture, art, theatre, music, cinema and literature, and the Year of Russia in Japan will feature many tours by renowned theatres and music collectives and will include various art and photo exhibitions, as well as the Week of Russian Cinema.

In conclusion, I will note once more that the implementation of this unique project of the Cross Years will further facilitate good-neighbourly relations and the partnership between Russia and Japan. Let me cordially wish every success in this large event.

Thank you for your attention.

Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe (retranslated): Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,

Last June, when young leaves were just turning in Tokyo, I spent unforgettable hours attending the opening ceremony of the Russian Seasons and watching the Bolshoi Theatre company's production of the ballet Giselle.

A year has passed since then. And now, in the building of this very theatre, we are celebrating the official opening of the Year of Russia in Japan and the Year of Japan in Russia. At President Putin's initiative, Japan became the first country where the Russian Seasons took place. The contacts that originated back then will this year be extended to political and economic spheres, as well as to youth and sports exchanges.

Japan and Russia, although neighbours, are considered countries that are close but at the same time distant from one another. Japan-Russia relations have much potential, which is being gradually realised.

Citizens of the two countries communicate with each other in various spheres and understand each other. This considerably reduces the distance between our countries and gives rise to great trust and friendship. The current Cross Year is leading us to a better tomorrow.

I hope you will watch and enjoy the performances by Japanese Kabuki theatre that will be showcased as pert of the Year of Japan. The programme will also feature an extensive art exhibition, with pieces that are rarely exhibited even in Japan.

Events aimed at promoting Japanese traditions and pop culture will take place in various parts of Russia's vast territory. I hope you will attend them too. And I am sure that people in Japan will be fascinated by the profound Russian art.

On June 14, the World Cup will start, with the Japanese national team having qualified and taking part. It is quite possible that Japan could even face Russia in the finals; I am already looking forward to such an interesting match.

Now you will see the Kagami Biraki ceremony performed by samurais wearing traditional armour, and a captivating show by Japanese drummers. Russian martial artists and Bolshoi Theatre performers will also take part in these shows.

This is a special programme that can only be seen tonight. I hope you immensely enjoy watching how the souls of Japan and Russia will sing in unison.

Thank you very much.

May 26, 2018, Moscow