Sina
Edition: CHINA ASIA USA EUROPE AFRICA
Home > Asia
Friday, December 16, 2016, 21:30

Abe, Russia sign economic pacts; stalemate on territory

By Agencies

Abe, Russia sign economic pacts; stalemate on territory
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a joint press conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo on Dec 16, 2016. Putin is on a two-day official visit to Japan. (AFP / Franck Robichon)

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the business community in Japan will expand cooperation with Russia to help it develop its manufacturing sector.

Abe and Putin wrapped up summit meetings Friday that finalized nearly 70 agreements on economic, cultural, science and sports cooperation, though no deal on a long-running territorial dispute.

Abe and Putin wrapped up summit meetings Friday that finalized nearly 70 agreements on economic, science and sports cooperation, though no deal on a long-running territorial dispute

Speaking to business leaders, Abe said Japanese corporations would work with Russian business to help them diversify. The two countries plan to cooperate on development of natural gas and coal infrastructure, nuclear energy, agriculture, medical services and other areas.

Putin said he hoped the expanded cooperation would help restore trade flows that have suffered recently as sanctions over the Ukraine have bit into Russia's exports.

Putin said on Friday that reaching a World War Two peace deal with Japan was more important than Russia's economic interests.

"For me the most important thing is to sign a peace deal (with Japan) because that would create the conditions for long-term co-operation," Putin told a news conference in Tokyo after meeting Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe said the path towards resolving issues that have prevented Japan and Russia from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War Two is difficult , and without trust the goal can not be reached.

Putin was due to head home with promises of economic cooperation after appearing to achieve what experts said was a key goal - easing his international isolation when Russia faces Western condemnation over the destruction of eastern Aleppo in Syria , where it is backing President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

Putin himself said the economic cooperation would help set the stage for closer ties.

"I believe that joint work in economic areas will help to establish the basis needed to move to a relationship of true partnership," Putin said in Tokyo, at the beginning of a second day of talks.

Abe, Russia sign economic pacts; stalemate on territory
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint press conference at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's official residence in Tokyo on Dec 16, 2016. (AFP / Franck Robichon)

The two leaders agreed on Thursday, in talks at a hot spring resort in southwest Japan, on the importance of resuming security dialogue, a Japanese official said.

Ministerial level security talks were halted after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014, and the United States and other Group of Seven (G7) countries imposed sanctions in response.

Abe and Putin also agreed to start discussing economic cooperation on the disputed islands at the centre of a territorial dispute that has prevented their countries signing a peace treaty formally ending World War Two, a Russian official said.

The islands in the Western Pacific, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two and 17,000 Japanese residents were forced to flee.

Abe has pledged to resolve the dispute in the hope of leaving a significant diplomatic legacy and building better ties with Russia to counter a rising China.

He had hoped the lure of economic cooperation for Russia's economy, hit by low oil prices and Western sanctions, would pave the path for significant progress on the dispute.

"Abe must be bitterly disappointed," said James Brown, a professor at Temple University's Japan campus.

"Putin has given away absolutely nothing and, in return, he has received the offer of enhanced economic cooperation. Just as valuably, he has demonstrated divisions in G-7 (Group of Seven) policy on Russia and has encouraged Japan to distance itself from US policy," Brown added.

Japan and Russia agreed on day one of the summit, held at a hot spring resort in southwest Japan, to revive security talks and start discussing economic cooperation on the disputed islands, a row over which has kept them from signing a peace treaty formally ending World War Two.

The islands in the Western Pacific, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two.

Day two of the summit will be held in Tokyo.

Kremlin economic aide Yuri Ushakov said the two sides would issue a statement about possible joint economic activity on the disputed islands on Friday, adding such activity would be based on Russian legislation.

A Japanese spokesman, however, reiterated Japan's policy that any joint economic activity should not infringe on Tokyo's legal stance, underscoring a remaining gap.

Abe has hoped the lure of economic cooperation for Russia's economy, hit by low oil prices and Western sanctions, would pave the path for progress.

Abe has pledged to resolve the territorial dispute, in hopes of leaving a diplomatic legacy and building better ties with Russia to counter a rising China.

Putin, however, does not want to tarnish his domestic image as a staunch defender of Russian sovereignty.

Japan has long insisted its sovereignty over all four islands be confirmed before a peace treaty is signed, but has recently been rethinking that stance.

Abe, Russia sign economic pacts; stalemate on territory
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's wife Akie Abe (R) gestures to Russian President Vladimir Putin before he leaves for Tokyo, from the hot spring villa in Nagato, western Japan on Dec 16, 2016. Putin, a practitioner of the Japanese martial art of judo, is making his first visit to Japan as president in 11 years and has said he wants to end the "anachronism" of the two countries not having a World War II peace treaty. (AFP / Koji Sasahara)

Latest News