• Kyodo

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Japan and Russia have agreed to promote tourism and ease visa requirements for each other’s citizens under an economic cooperation plan proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in May, government officials said Friday.

Some other aspects of the eight-point action plan — such as cooperation on pediatrics, and promotion of trade and investment involving small and medium-sized companies — will start later this year, according to the officials.

Hiroshige Seko, the minister of economy, trade and industry, will provide more detail on the projects to Abe and President Vladimir Putin during their meeting Saturday on the sidelines of a summit of 21 Pacific Rim economies in Lima.

Japan hopes to use the economic cooperation plan as leverage in pushing forward stalled territorial negotiations between the two countries, especially when Putin visits Japan on Dec. 15 and 16 for talks with Abe.

The plan features bilateral economic cooperation in eight areas such as medicine, energy, cutting-edge technologies and industrialization of the Russian Far East.

On top of Saturday’s summit, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Russia on Dec. 3 for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to lay the groundwork for the Abe-Putin talks in mid-December.

The planned projects include setting up an office of the government-backed Japan National Tourism Organization in Moscow as part of efforts to promote tourism between the two countries.

On energy, Tokyo and Moscow will promote joint development of oil and gas fields, green energy projects and look to being technical collaboration in nuclear power generation.

The two sides will expand the size of student exchanges from 2017. They will also conduct sports exchanges in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The two governments will also hold talks in the first half of 2017 on cooperating in the training of medical professionals as well as the sharing of medical information and technology.

Additionally, Japan will help draw up urban development plans for Russia by summer next year to address issues such as traffic congestion and waste disposal, with a pilot program to be conducted in the southwestern Russia city of Voronezh.

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