12:34 GMT08 August 2020
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    The agenda of the first day of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Japan was dominated by the issues of bilateral trade and economy.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Putin arrived in Japan with a working visit, which is widely seen as a breakthrough in the Russian-Japanese relations, taking into account that it had been postponed since 2014.

    Russia-Japan Joint Activities on South Kurils

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have discussed the prospects of the joint economic activities on South Kuril Islands, among other issues, during their three-hour talks, Abe said.

    "[We have] thoroughly and frankly discussed the issues of free visit of their homeland by former residents of the islands, joint economic activities between the two countries with a special regime on the islands, as well as the issue of a peace treaty," Abe told journalists.

    Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said that experts have failed to work out the text of a statement on joint economic activity on the islands.

    "In Lima, the president and the prime minister instructed the experts to prepare a possible statement for today's meeting. Experts worked on the text for a few weeks, but were unable to develop a text that would be suitable to both parties. Therefore the leaders had to address it. They spent 40 minutes to agree on the text, which will be published tomorrow," Ushakov told reporters.

    He said the joint economic activity of Russia and Japan on the Kuril Islands may concern fisheries, tourism, culture and medicine.

    Joint Investment Fund

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev said that Russia's Far East Investment and Export Agency and the Far East Development Fund signed a cooperation deal with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) to establish a joint investment fund.

    "We signed a memorandum on creating a joint investment platform. … Such funds help to set a better stage for investment," Trutnev, who is also the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District, told journalists.

    The platform is intended to boost cooperation, because Japanese business is hesitant to invest in the Far East region of Russia and the country in general. Currently, the Russian side is actively figuring out new ways of attracting businesses, Trutnev added.

    US Missile Defense in Pacific

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russian and Japanese leaders discussed the issues of the US presence in the Pacific region, US missile defense, as well as the threat of North Korea.

    "[They] spoke of the general issues in the Pacific region, [they] discussed the issue of missile defense and in general foreign, specially US, presence, which in our opinion does not correspond to the threats emanating from North Korea," Lavrov said, as broadcast by the Life television channel.

    According to the minister, Russia’s Japanese colleagues now seem to have better understanding of Russia’s concerns.

    Sovereignty of Kuril Islands

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the issue of sovereignty of the South Kuril Islands was not discussed at the talks.

    "The issue of Russian sovereignty has not been raised at all and is not subject to discussion," Peskov said when asked about the Japanese side's reaction to the fact that possible joint economic activity on the islands would be conducted in line with Russian laws.

    Asked whether the sovereignty issue was raised during Thursday's talks in principle, the spokesman said: "No."

    Yet to Come

    About 50 business contracts are expected to be signed on the sidelines of the Russian-Japanese business forum that Putin and Abe are expected to attend on Friday.


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