12 may, 2009 18:47  

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Taro Aso held a joint press conference on the outcome of the Russian-Japanese talk


Taro Aso (as translated): First of all, on behalf of the Japanese Government, I would like to warmly welcome Mr Putin to Japan.

Mr Putin's visit demonstrates the Russian Government's interest in raising Japanese-Russian relations to a higher level. I am pleased to say that today we had a very good discussion. I will tell you what we talked about.

First. A series of meetings at the highest level between Japan and Russia endorsed the establishment of partnership relations between Japan and Russia in an important strategic sense. To accomplish this in the Asia-Pacific region, we must deal with issues that concern us and other countries.

Second. Russia has recently, under the thoughtful leadership of Mr Putin, been industriously developing the Far East and Siberia, and has expressed readiness to move towards the integration of Russia into the Asia-Pacific region. Japan is ready to respond to the Russian Federation's efforts.

The APEC summit will take place in Vladivostok in 2012. In preparation for the summit, we will cooperate in a mutually beneficial way on energy conservation, increasing energy efficiency, transport, and other areas that interest the Russian side.

Third: nuclear energy, legal help in criminal cases, increasing customs efficiency, and so on. These and other areas are very important to both Japan and the Russian Federation. We will cooperate step-by-step on these issues. Nuclear energy in particular is a very important matter, as it is of strategic importance for our mutual cooperation.

Furthermore, the inter-governmental agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy will undergo a ratification process. We have high hopes for the future development of our relations, once Russia ratifies this document.
Regarding the Northern Territories. In his tenure as President Mr Putin said that he would continue to put effort into resolving this problem, which is an obstacle to the development of bilateral relations between our countries. I would like to now emphasise that it is the lack of any peace agreement between our countries that is an obstacle to the development of our bilateral cooperation in a broad range of areas. In order to remove this obstacle, it is vital that a final resolution to this problem be found.

This problem must be resolved during the life of our generation. The search for the solution to this problem must be sped up on the basis of the documents accepted thus far, and it is in relation to this that I turned to Mr Putin. Mr Medvedev expressed his willingness to talk about the territorial problem in July. Given how fast the world is changing these days, Mr Medvedev expresed his desire for this to be resolved as quickly as possible. Japan shares that desire. This meeting is a very important step in raising our bilateral relations to a high level.

Vladimir Putin:Mr Prime Minister,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank the Japanese Government, and the Prime Minister personally, for the invitation to visit Japan on this working visit, and for the atmosphere of businesslike partnership throughout our joint work today.

This visit to Japan by the Russian delegation had a very full agenda, and took place, as I have already said, in a constructive and benevolent atmosphere.

Mr Aso and I have just concluded our talks, which covered a wide range of issues regarding Russian-Japanese relations, and in which we discussed many current international problems.

We are pleased with how our relations are developing and I would like to note that we have achieved practically all the goals we set for ourselves when we drew up the "Russian-Japanese Action Plan" in 2003. Today proves once again that this document has become the current "roadmap" for our relations.

Regular and confidential political dialogue to a great extent enables the strengthening of Russian-Japanese ties. During this meeting, we deemed this dialogue to have been generally positive.

I would also like to note that both sides' approaches to trade and economic cooperation coincided. We talked with particular pleasure about its rapid growth in recent years, something that has facilitated record volumes of bilateral trade.

Since my last visit to Japan in 2005, the volume of trade has practically tripled. In addition, we are actively developing cooperation on investment, and there has been a notable growth in the presence of Japanese companies on the Russian market.

We have already spoken a great deal about joint measures to overcome the effects of the global financial and economic crisis. We think it is vital to develop close cooperation on anti-crisis matters.

The Prime Minister and I affirmed the closeness of our approaches to creating a global post-crisis financial and economic architecture that is sustainable and transparent. We agreed that the crisis, with all its difficulties, offers a unique opportunity to rebuild and qualitatively improve the trade and economic relations between Russia and Japan. In light of this, we discussed Russian-Japanese cooperation on innovation, energy supply, information and telecommunications systems, nanotechnology, energy saving, space exploration, and transport. We of course also touched on issues related to strengthening the Asia-Pacific region's energy security.

The other, no less important, topics included the development of humanitarian, cultural and educational contacts, as well as inter-regional ties.

We obviously devoted a significant amount of time to the matter of the peace treaty.

Overall, I think that the talks were constructive and will help strengthen the multi-dimensional Russian-Japanese relationship.

Thank you for your attention.

Newspaper Nihon Keidzai (as translated): My question is for Mr Taro Aso. Several agreements and documents have been signed on the inter-governmental level, particularly the agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The signing of that particular agreement will, I believe, give a big boost to the development of economic relations, in particular regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy. In connection with this, what results can we expect in the future? I think that in order to achieve real results, the territorial issues need to be resolved, and a peace treaty concluded. The Prime Minister has just told us about the topics you discussed at your meetings. But nonetheless, what exactly did you and Mr Putin say at your meetings?

Taro Aso: Regarding the agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Parliament needs to approve it; only then will it take effect. For example, in an area such as the construction of nuclear power plants, Japan has a very high level of technology. Russia is very rich in natural resources like uranium, and also has highly advanced uranium enrichment technology. Therefore, we can pin our hopes for a mutually beneficial relationship on the conclusion of agreements also on a business-to-business level. I assume you understand what uranium enrichment is?

Regarding the territorial issue, we have already spoken about that. It was discussed during my meeting with Mr Putin. I understand that Mr Putin also really wants to resolve this question. I think this was a very good meeting in the run up to the July 2009 summit.

Thank you.

Mayak radio station, Vesti FM: I have a question for Mr Putin. Much has been said today about the development of the Asia-Pacific region, including in the field of energy, which you have also mentioned. What exactly are Russia and Japan doing in this sphere? What contribution to future development, including to energy security, will they make? In particular, are there plans to build a second line of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline? We would also like to hear your opinion on the civilian nuclear power agreement. What specifically can you do under this agreement? Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Let me begin with the final part of your questions. I agree with Mr Aso that this is a vital document for cooperation in the sphere of nuclear power. It should be said that cooperation in this sphere cannot be constructive, embracing and fruitful without an intergovernmental agreement, which we have signed today.

The agreement has paved the way to signing contracts and commercial agreements between economic operators. I am referring to the nuclear fuel cycle and prospecting for, production and enrichment of uranium. I am also speaking about power engineering, and possible joint projects in Russia and other countries.

You know, and I have mentioned this today, that we have ambitious plans for nuclear power generation in Russia. We built 32 large nuclear units throughout the Soviet history, but should build 28 large units by 2020 or 2021-2022 at the latest. This programme offers many opportunities for joint work. Nuclear technology is very well developed in Russia and Japan, and both countries are interested in cooperation to boost their opportunities in the markets of other countries, as I have said before.

I believe energy saving is another important sphere of cooperation in power generation. We have also discussed this issue today.

Hydrocarbon production is one more sphere of cooperation, which offers many opportunities. We are already working in this field. The first batches of LNG are being delivered from the Sakhalin-2 project. As we have said today, there are more possibilities than achievements in Russia's Far East.

First, we can expand ongoing projects, and second, we can advance to other, equally important and large projects. For example, we could join forces to implement Sakhalin-3. It is an offshore project in the Sea of Okhotsk, whose explored reserves amount to 700 million metric tons of oil and 1.5 trillion cubic metres of gas. We could possibly jointly implement Sakhalin-4, Sakhalin-5 and two more projects there. In short, there are enough blocks for joint development there.

We also plan to build an LNG plant near Vladivostok. Rosneft intends to build an oil refinery in the Far East. Both could be considered for joint operation.

As for the second line of the ESPO pipeline project, we have not removed this issue from the agenda. We will address it as the production rate grows in East Siberia. [Russian] companies tell us they are prepared to produce 50-80 million metric tons [of oil] annually there. This would be enough to fill the pipeline and make it commercially expedient. We have discussed that project at the meeting with business leaders and Mr Aso.

Jiji Tsushin telegraph agency (as translated): A question for Mr Putin. It concerns the territorial problem. It has been rumoured that there are plans to return not four but three and a half islands. What is your opinion of this idea?

As for the Japanese side, in particular the public, it is believed that no real progress has been made on the territorial issue, and that we are only developing economic cooperation. This could put off the solution of the territorial problem for a long time. What can you say about these concerns?

Vladimir Putin: As for different opinions among the people, there are also different approaches to solving such problems in Russia. I would not like to repeat or analyse them now. I believe we should cater to the part of the public that wants problems to be solved.

Now about a connection between trade and economic cooperation and the peace treaty. I want to say openly and definitely: We are not negotiating a peace treaty to create conditions for economic cooperation; we are developing economic cooperation to create conditions for the signing of a peace treaty.

Russia is prepared to discuss the problem. Prime Minister Aso and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have agreed to meet during the G8 summit in Italy in July, also to discuss the peace treaty issue. I think they will discuss all possible ways toward that goal, including the one you have mentioned.

Komsomolskaya Pravda: A question for the Japanese Prime Minister. Mr Aso, the [territorial] problem exists, it is discussed in bilateral relations, and it is greatly hampering the development of Russian-Japanese trade and economic relations and cooperation. The problem has now been compounded by the global financial crisis, which has affected both Russia and Japan.

What avenues of Russian-Japanese cooperation do you envision in the light of these two problems? And what are the priority spheres of this cooperation? Thank you.

I would also like Mr Putin to express his views on the matter. Thank you.

Тaro Аsо (as translated): About the Japanese view. We in Asia are prepared to develop partner relations with Russia in Asia-Pacific. We said at our talks with Mr Putin today that to develop such relations, we should attain the goals that interest each partner. As for Asia-Pacific and mutually beneficial relations between our countries in the region, they could greatly contribute to the development and stability of Asia-Pacific as a whole.

Mr Putin has mentioned this issue. Over the past five years, trade between our countries has grown fivefold, by 500%. The event symbolising this development is the production of liquefied natural gas in Sakhalin, which began in February this year. I personally attended the ceremony.

Now for our meeting today. Mr Putin and I discussed the 2012 APEC summit and our contribution to preparing the event. We also spoke about mutually beneficial relations in transport and our intention to develop them. The sides have come to an agreement on the issue.

At the same time, there is a territorial problem in relations between our countries. If we remove this bone of contention, we will be able to develop truly partner relations. This is my personal opinion.

Vladimir Putin: We in Russia proceed from the belief that the development of Russian-Japanese relations is a crucial factor of regional development and security at the present stage and especially in the medium and longer terms.

It is proceeding from these considerations that we intend to develop relations with our Japanese partners. It is for this rather than any other reason that we will try to cleanse our relations of anything that may hinder their development.

I am referring to political, economic and financial problems. Of course, current developments in the global financial system and the economy may prevent us from implementing some projects as quickly as we would like. But on the other hand, they are also forcing us to act more effectively.

I am confident that we will not only deal with this situation, but will also implement the tasks formulated before and during this visit.

Thank you.