Speaking at the ceremony, Stepashin emphasized the need for the two nations to develop social and economic interaction along with stepping up political dialogue. According to him, this is the idea behind the Russo-Japanese Assembly, co-founded by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and several other public organizations. "The Assembly is a multi-purpose forum to initiate cultural and sporting exchange, as well as trade and business ties," he said.
Arkady Volsky, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, pointed out, for his part, that the year 2003 saw Russia-Japan trade turnover increase by 40 percent to nearly reach the $6bln mark. Japanese imports to Russia grew 70 percent, he said.
The Assembly will help the two countries broaden their trade cooperation, Volsky believes. He announced that the Russo-Japanese Economic Council, which incorporates two hundred Russian companies and of which he is in charge, will now become part of the Assembly.