Moscow – Russia is preparing to make “unprecedented” proposals for joint economic activities with Japan on the northwestern Pacific islands at the center of the two countries’ long-standing territorial dispute.
At a Security Council meeting Friday, President Vladimir Putin said that Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has made proposals related to the joint activities that are “absolutely unique and unprecedented.”
Putin instructed Mishustin to draw up the proposals in detail. He also said that the proposals will be released after Mishustin visits Russia’s Far East. The visit may include the disputed islands, called the Northern Territories in Japan.
Bilateral talks to resolve the dispute and conclude a World War II peace treaty have been in a deadlock for a considerable amount of time.
Putin made the remarks on the very day the Tokyo Olympic Games officially opened.
Russian media reports have said Mishustin will visit the Sakhalin region, which effectively governs the disputed islands off Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, for two days from Monday.
Mishustin would be the first Russian prime minister to set foot on the islands since Dmitry Medvedev made such a trip in August 2019. Japan would protest if Mishustin visits the islands.
At the Security Council meeting, Putin said Russia has been working together with Japanese partners for a long time to create the necessary conditions for joint economic activities on the islands.
Putin also expressed hope that Russia will be able to formulate and certainly implement measures to be included in the upcoming final proposals.
In December 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Putin agreed to start joint economic activities on the Russian-held islands in five areas, including tourism and aquaculture.
However, little progress has since been made because bilateral talks have stalled over a proposed system allowing such projects to be implemented without infringing on the two countries’ legal stances.
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