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Russia, Japan weigh priority projects for economic cooperation

Kyodo

Russian and Japanese economy and energy ministers agreed Thursday to flesh out dozens of specific projects in the two countries’ economic cooperation over the next month.

The agreement came after Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko met with Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev and Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Moscow.

The projects are part of the economic cooperation Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin in May.

Seko handed over to Russian officials Abe’s letters to Putin and Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, in which the Japanese leader expresses his desire to develop bilateral ties, a ministry official said.

The two ministers agreed to set 30 or so projects in such areas as oil and gas field development, wind power generation and cooperation in nuclear reactor decommissioning work at the disaster-stricken Fukushima power plant before Putin visits Japan in mid-December for talks with Abe.

Both sides also agreed to set up working groups to discuss details on development of different energy sources and continue studying a so-called energy bridge project for installing power routes from plants on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East to Hokkaido.

Tokyo is eager to use bilateral economic cooperation to make progress on a territorial dispute with Moscow over a group of islands off Hokkaido that were seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s World War II surrender in August 1945 and remain under Russian control.