Japan and Russia will sign more than 10 documents during President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Tokyo in early September to boost cooperation in various areas and maintain the momentum toward strengthened bilateral ties, government sources said Monday.
The sources said that among the planned documents will be three new cooperation pacts — one for science and technology, another on cultural exchanges and a third for maritime safety.
The science and technology pact will replace a similar treaty that has existed between the two countries since the Soviet era. The new pact will help promote joint scientific and technological research activities because it, unlike the old one, will provide legal protection of intellectual property rights, the sources said.
The new cultural exchange pact will establish an institutional framework for various cultural exchanges, including regular talks between Japanese and Russian cultural officials, the sources said.
The new pact on maritime safety will be aimed at promoting bilateral cooperation in relief and other activities during maritime accidents in the Sea of Japan, the sources said. An early reporting system will be established between the two countries under the new treaty.
Putin, who formally took office in early May, is expected to make a four-day official visit to Japan starting around Sept. 3, although the exact date has not yet been announced.
Putin will also come to Japan this month for the annual summit of the Group of Eight major countries in Okinawa. Although Putin and Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori will meet on the fringes of the G8 summit, no substantive discussions on bilateral relations are expected at that meeting.
Among other cooperation documents to be signed during Putin’s early September visit will be a memorandum of understanding on accelerating the transfer of Russian-kept documents concerning Japanese prisoners of war held in Soviet labor camps and prisons in Siberia after World War II, the sources said.
It is believed that the Soviet Red Army captured about 600,000 Japanese soldiers and citizens in August 1945 and interned them in Siberia. About 60,000 of them died, many due to hard labor and mistreatment.
When he visited Tokyo in October 1993, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin apologized for the ill treatment of the Japanese prisoners of war. It was the first time that a leader of either Russia or the Soviet Union had made a clear apology on the POW issue.
Japan and Russia will also sign memorandums of understanding in other areas, including one on promoting cooperation in cleanup operations in the event of oil leakages from ships in and around oil fields off Sakhalin, the sources said.
The two countries will also sign a memorandum confirming the progress made so far in the dismantling of Russian nuclear weapons with the help of Japanese money, the sources said.
At their meeting in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk in November 1997, Yeltsin and then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto 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 row involves three islands — Etorofu, Kunashiri and Shikotan — and the Habomai group of islets off northeastern Hokkaido that were seized by Soviet troops immediately after the end of World War II.
During their early September meeting, Mori is expected to press Putin to work toward settling the territorial dispute and concluding a peace treaty, in accordance with the Krasnoyarsk agreement.
However, the two countries are unlikely to be able to conclude a peace treaty by the end of this year, because Moscow now insists on concluding the treaty while effectively shelving the islands dispute, something Tokyo says it cannot accept.
The planned signing of more than 10 cooperation documents is apparently aimed at preventing bilateral ties from deteriorating due to the lack of progress on the territorial dispute.