Trade chief Kaoru Yosano told visiting Russian first deputy prime minister Yuri Maslyukov on Tuesday that Tokyo is ready to expand support of Russian small and medium-size enterprises.

During a meeting with Maslyukov, Yosano said Japan will dispatch experts to Moscow for three months to help transfer knowhow on bailing out financially troubled smaller firms during fiscal 1999, which begins next month, officials of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said.

While proposing to accept Russian officials for training at Japanese governmental financial institutions — which are helping small firms counter banks’ stringent lending stance — Yosano said Tokyo will receive more Russian businessmen for on-the-job training with Japanese companies in addition to two training facilities in Russia operated by the Japan Association for Trade with Russia and Central-Eastern Europe.

To elicit support from Japanese companies for expanded economic cooperation, MITI is planning to separately send two expert missions to Moscow — one through the JATRCEE and another through the Japan External Trade Organization — and advisers will also be assigned to Japan Small Business Corp. to target investment in Russia.

While Yosano said Tokyo wants to see the results of an ongoing feasibility study on joint implementation of 20 energy-related projects in Russia, Maslyukov called on Japan to play an active role in mining gas and other energy resources in areas such as Sakhalin.

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