• Kyodo


Russia has requested Japan’s support for agricultural exports and energy development as part of intensifying negotiations on bilateral economic cooperation ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December, according to sources.

Some of the projects on Russia’s 68-point list for Japanese cooperation are politically sensitive, such as developing areas near the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine and extending the Trans-Siberian Railway to Hokkaido, the sources said Tuesday.

The action by Moscow is regarded as an attempt to set a hurdle for Abe that is difficult to overcome. Abe is eager to resolve the territorial dispute over the four Russian-held islets off Hokkaido that were seized at the end of World War II by Soviet troops. They are known in Japan as the Northern Territories and in Russia as the Southern Kurils.

The economic cooperation is being discussed after Abe presented an eight-point economic cooperation plan to Putin in May focused on developing the Russian Far East, in the hope of making progress on the territorial dispute.

The dispute, which has prevented the countries from concluding a post-World War II peace treaty, will be high on the agenda in Abe’s meeting with Putin on Dec. 15 in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

In the agricultural and fisheries sector, Russia has requested Japanese cooperation to set up a wholesale and distribution center, and build infrastructure for transportation in the Russian Far East to promote exports of its agricultural products to Japan, the sources said.

In the energy sector, Russia is hoping for Japanese support in developing liquefied natural gas on the Gydan Peninsula facing the Arctic Ocean and promoting a wind power generation project in the Russian Far East, as well as starting a project to connect Sakhalin and Hokkaido with an underwater power transmission system.

Russia has also asked for Japanese cooperation in improving and modernizing medical facilities in the Russian Far East and in constructing the Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport, the sources said.

The Japanese side is believed to have expressed reluctance regarding Russian requests related to politically sensitive projects, such as building ports, railways and roads on the Taman Peninsula, east of the Crimean Peninsula, and developing seabed resources in the Caspian Sea and other areas, they said.

Japan, the European Union and the United States imposed economic sanctions on Russia following its annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.