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    Kuril Islands

    Against All Odds: Russia, Japan Inching Towards a Deal on Kuril Islands

    © Sputnik/ Alexander Liskin
    Asia & Pacific
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    Mutual trust and cooperation hold the key to signing a peace treaty between Russia and Japan, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said when summing up the results of his December 3 meeting with his Japanese colleague Fumio Kishida.

    Lavrov added, however, that the road to aligning the two countries’ positions on the Kuril Islands could be long and bumpy.

    Shortly after, the Tokyo-based newspaper Mainichi ran an article, which said that the plans to establish a special economic zone on the South Kuril Islands now being discussed by Moscow and Tokyo could snag over the islands’ unclear legal status.

    Fumio Kishida had made it clear that Japan would find it hard to start implementing the plan as long as the islands remain under Russian control.

    In an interview with Sputnik Japan the director of the Center for Japanese Studies in Moscow Valery Kistanov mentioned a notable spike in diplomatic and economic contacts between the two countries prompted by Lavrov’s meeting with Kishida.

    “We have seen the drafts of joint projects in energy, agriculture, high technology exports and many other projects the Russian Far East can benefit from,” he said, adding that nearly 30 most promising projects could be signed shortly.

    As for the issue of the islands, the Japanese are not making economic cooperation directly contingent on the favorable resolution of the territorial issue because they too are going to benefit from such cooperation.

    “They need stable supplies of energy resources and they also need access to the Russian market. Japan  would like to export infrastructure to Russia. All this will give a new boost to Japan’s stagnant economy,” Kistanov noted.

    Andrei Fesyun, an expert at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said that setting up joint ventures on the islands was a highly complicated issue.

    “There was an idea to build a spa hotel there and other things but there are more to this than just economic gain for business. For the Japanese the Kuril Islands are a very sensitive issue and what Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe is now doing is nothing short of a heroic feat. He is the first Japanese Premier to openly say that he wants to have better relations with Russia. I can imagine how much resistance he has to deal with, that’s why I don’t think we should expect any quick breakthroughs here. One thing is clear: we are now ready to meet and talk things over,” he said.

    Commenting on last week’s talks in Moscow, President Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that “we hope for progress in our economic and investment cooperation. There is an impressive raft of bilateral documents waiting to be finalized now.”

    In any way, separating politics from economics Japanese politicians spoke about prove be beneficial to both countries.

    Fumio Kishida arrived in Moscow on December 3 for a two-day visit ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s planned official trip to Japan later this month. Lavrov said that Kishida’s meeting with President Putin on Friday showed directions in which Japanese-Russian relations should progress.

    The Japanese foreign minister said he wanted to discuss bilateral ties, North Korea, Syria and Ukraine during the meeting with Lavrov.

    Meanwhile, Japan’s Foreign Ministry has expressed hope that President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan on December 15-16 would further strengthen relations between the two countries. According to the statement, Putin will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nagato and in Tokyo.

    The Russian-Japanese relations are tainted by Tokyo's claims to several Russian islands.

    Japan lays claims to four Kuril Islands of Kunashir, Shikotan, Habomai and Iturup, which belong to Russia according to the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty that transferred the control of the islands to the Soviet Union. Japan's stance prevented Moscow and Tokyo from signing a peace treaty after World War II.

    The relations between the two states have recently been re-energized. In September, Abe took part in the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia's Vladivostok, during which he held three-hour talks with the Russian president.

    One of the outcomes of the meeting was the announcement of Putin's visit to Japan on December 15, which has been postponed from 2014.

    Related:

    Lavrov: Russia-Japan Cooperation Important for Asia-Pacific Security
    Russia, Japan to Sign Deal on $910Mln Joint Investment Fund in December
    Tags:
    cooperation projects, disputed islands, visit, talks, Center for Japanese Studies, Higher School of Economics, Andrei Fesyun, Valery Kistanov, Vladimir Putin, Fumio Kishida, Dmitry Peskov, Sergei Lavrov, Japan, Russia
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    • avatar
      cast235
      ALL ABOUT JAPAN.. What about Russian economy. Technology transfer? Russia access to JAPAN markets. Investment and infrastructure build in JAPAN by Russia? Reactors and other stuff? ALL is what JAPAN wants.
      What Russia wants or will get?
      NO KURIL DEAL will happen. Unless is DUMB Gorbachev.

      Russia should sell meats, TUNA and more in JAPAN. Or why give anything to JAPAN for?
      MAKES no sense.
      Russia shoud raise TUNA, fish,. Instead of letting north dissapear by ocean , develop to take it back.
      Yes develop teleporting in Russia. Some deers with new horns may appear..WAIT ...Those are the feet... To the BUTCHER SHOP. We will eat DEER for dinner.
    • avatar
      cast235
      Two items Russia MUST demand. LEXUS , and other high brands MAKE IN RUSSIA with all techno transfer.
      WAGYU meats. Russia MUST demand to have the tech and cattle INSIDE RUSSIA. Or why Russia doing all this for?
      The meat cattle's MUST be transferred so Russia have same.
    • avatar
      tobi.gelando
      I can not believe Russia has a dead wish !!! So the Kuril Islands are Russia mother ground !!! There will be talks but only talks about that !!! and Japan now's that !!!
    • avatar
      Tim - USA
      Giving the Kuril Islands back to Japan is in fact giving them to the US and NATO to build military bases. Doing this would be like giving Crimea back to Ukraine so NATO and the US can build military bases and throw Russia out of the Black Sea. I sure hope Russia sees what is going on here and makes it clear that these islands belong to Russia and if Japan doesn't like it they can get lost. Japan is a puppet of the US just like all of the EU countries and not to be trusted.
    • avatar
      Tim - USAin reply totobi.gelando(Show commentHide comment)
      tobi.gelando, I hope you are right
    • avatar
      michael
      well the trust has been blown by the release of information that abe telephones the thug porky.
    • avatar
      tobi.gelandoin reply toTim - USA(Show commentHide comment)
      Tim - USA,
      You are right Tim all to the end .
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