Russia, Japan agree to promote economic cooperation in Russian Far East

Kyodo

Trade minister Hiroshige Seko and Russian Far East development minister Alexander Galushka agreed Friday to promote economic development projects in Russia’s Far East ahead of a summit between their leaders in December, Japanese government officials said.

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

Seko told Galushka at their meeting in Moscow that Japan wants to advance development projects in the region for a successful summit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Dec. 15 in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The Russian minister emphasized the importance of promoting infrastructure and other projects involving Japanese companies in the area, which is grappling with a falling population and lags in industrial development other than in energy fields.

The Russian ministry for Far East development has requested Tokyo’s cooperation for 18 projects, including the modernization of Khabarovsk Novy Airport and the improvement of the port of Vostochny’s coal shipping infrastructure.

The ministry has said total investment in the 18 projects, if realized as requested, is estimated at around ¥1.7 trillion ($16.5 billion).

Russia’s economic development ministry is also seeking Japan’s cooperation on 50 projects, although some of the requests from the two ministries overlap.