Japan and Russia are likely to compile a new comprehensive package of economic cooperation measures to replace the three-year Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan, which is to expire at the end of this year, government sources said Friday.
The sources said that Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Russian President Vladimir Putin may agree to compile the new cooperation plan at a Tokyo meeting in early September.
If the agreement is reached by the two leaders, the plan will probably be compiled by the end of this year so that it can formally go into effect in January, the sources said.
The sources said that instead of compiling a completely new plan, Japan and Russia may simply extend the Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan beyond its expiry at the end of this year after incorporating some minor modifications.
Even in that event, however, the Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan will probably be renamed to reflect the change in leadership that has taken place in both countries in recent months, the sources said, adding this would effectively mean the compilation of a new plan.
Putin, who formally took office in early May to succeed Boris Yeltsin, is expected to make a four-day official Japan visit starting Sept. 1, although the exact date has yet to be announced.
The Russian leader will also come to Japan in late July to attend the annual Group of Eight summit in Okinawa. Although Putin and Mori will meet on the fringes of the G8 summit, no substantive discussions on bilateral relations are expected at that meeting.
Mori is expected to form his second Cabinet on Tuesday, following Sunday’s Lower House elections, in which his Liberal Democratic Party-led tripartite coalition won a comfortable majority in the more powerful Diet chamber.
Mori took over as prime minister after Keizo Obuchi collapsed due to a stroke in April. Obuchi died in mid-May after being hospitalized for about six weeks.
The Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan was agreed on when Yeltsin and Ryutaro Hashimoto, Obuchi’s immediate predecessor, met in the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk in November 1997.
At the Krasnoyarsk meeting, Yeltsin and Hashimoto also pledged to resolve a long-standing territorial dispute based on the principles of “law and justice” and to conclude a peace treaty by the end of 2000 to formally end the two countries’ World War II hostilities.
The territorial dispute involves three islands and one group of islets off northeastern Hokkaido that were seized by Soviet troops immediately after the end of World War II.
During their September meeting, Mori is expected to press Putin to work toward settling the territorial row and concluding a peace treaty, in accordance with the Krasnoyarsk agreement.
However, Japan and Russia are unlikely to be able to conclude a peace treaty by the end of this year because Moscow now insists on any deal being concluded with the territorial issue effectively shelved — which Japan is unable to accept.
Despite the lack of progress on concluding the peace treaty, the two countries share the opinion that they should continue the economic cooperation that was initiated in a wide range of areas under the Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan, the sources said.
The Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan is aimed at helping Russia develop a balanced open-economy, promote free-market reforms and foster its energy industry, among other things.
It consists of six measures: investment cooperation; promotion of integration of the Russian economy into the international economic system; expansion of reform support; cooperation for the training program of Russian business managers; strengthened dialogue on energy; and cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear power.
The sources said that a new economic cooperation plan will be compiled on the basis of the Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan.
The sources said, however, that while Moscow wants to include more Japanese economic assistance measures in the new plan, Tokyo hopes to compile a new plan by expanding the Hashimoto-Yeltsin Plan to include various exchanges in areas other than purely economic ones.