Putin asks Abe for investments during Kuril handover negotiations

Russia hopes to expand its investment and technological collaboration with Japan, said Russian President Vladimir Putin following negotiations with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe in Moscow.

After the leaders’ meeting in the Kremlin, to which Abe had come “fully resolved” to deal with the matter of the peace treaty – which has been left hanging for more than 50 years due to the territorial dispute surrounding the Kuril islands – Putin bemoaned the small amount of Japanese investments in Russia (around $2.2 billion).

“The two countries’ potential for cooperation has not yet been fully utilized,” Putin remarked.

The Russian president noted that he and Abe discussed the possibility of “ambitious plans to expand economic ties”, especially “investment and technological cooperation”.

Putin also proposed to increase the trade turnover between the countries, which is currently at $20 billion, by 50%.

“$30 billion, at least,” Putin said.

As for the fate of the Kuril islands, “a lot of attention has been devoted to this topic,” Putin observed, adding that Russia is prepared to continue discussing the topic.

Abe, in turn, said that they had agreed to hold a new round of peace treaty negotiations on the level of the foreign ministers. Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono, as well as the special representatives, will meet on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, which is scheduled for the middle of February.

Evidently the leaders did not make any breakthrough in terms of convergence of views, since they merely repeated the well-known talking points, observed Valery Kistanov, head of Japanese studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Two weeks before the talks, Abe said that Japan is willing to accept the Southern Kurils with their current Russian inhabitants, and hopes to acquire their consent for the territory handover.

Investment will follow once the matter has been resolved – it is the absence of a peace treaty that is preventing any possible collaboration, Abe told Interfax ahead of the visit.

Japan claims the four southern islands of the Kuril chain, which it calls its “northern territories” and considers to be “under occupation”. The islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai were annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

 

  Putin, Russia, Japan, Shinzo Abe, Kuril Islands

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