• Kyodo


Japan is eyeing more than ¥1 trillion ($9.6 billion) worth of economic cooperation with Russia under an eight-point proposal by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The government hopes the assistance will help promote talks on a decades-old territorial dispute over four islands off Hokkaido. But Russia has shown no signs of giving up its control over the islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

Tokyo is seeking an agreement on economic cooperation during a meeting between Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the prime minister’s home prefecture of Yamaguchi on Dec. 15, the sources said Friday.

Industry minister Hiroshige Seko, who is in charge of economic cooperation with Russia, may visit Russia around November for ministerial talks on the matter, they said.

The envisioned cooperation covers 41 items chiefly concerning infrastructure construction, resource development and improvement in the quality of life in the Russian Far East and Siberia, they said.

Among the items are improvement of three Far Eastern ports — Vladivostok, Zarubino and Vostochny — as well as a ¥600 billion ($5.8 billion) project to construct a petrochemical plant near Vladivostok, according to the sources.

Abe presented the eight-point plan to Putin in May in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi. The eight points include cooperation in the medical field, energy development, industry promotion in the Russian Far East and personnel exchanges.

For medical cooperation, Tokyo plans to build a Japanese-style advanced hospital under a project worth up to ¥25 billion ($240 million), the sources said.

For energy cooperation other than the plant building, Japan is seeking to promote joint development of oil and natural gas in Sakhalin, Siberia and the Arctic Sea area, they said.

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