Foreign Minister Gemba's Visit to Russia (Overview)
On July 28, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs, who visited Sochi, a Russian city on the Black Sea coast, held a Japan-Russia foreign ministers' meeting with Mr. Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, for approximately one hour and 40 minutes from 10 A.M. (local time), followed by a joint press conference and an approximately 45-minute-long working lunch. Subsequently, Foreign Minister Gemba paid a courtesy call on Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, from 3:15 P.M. for approximately 45 minutes.
I. Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers' Meeting
1. General issues on Japan-Russia relations
Both foreign ministers confirmed the shared recognition that amid changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region, closer cooperation between Japan and Russia would serve the strategic interests of the two countries. Minister Gemba pointed out that in order to promote Japan-Russia relations in various fields, support from all levels of people at each society would be necessary, and that for this purpose, it would be important to obtain concrete results from cooperation, to mutually trust each other, and to consider the public sentiment of the other country.
2. Territorial issue
(1) Following the agreement by the leaders of the two countries in Los Cabos, Mexico, Minister Gemba and Minister Lavrov engaged in a frank exchange of opinions. Minister Gemba, mentioning that the four islands belong to Japan, pointed out that the necessity for solving the territorial issue is increasing amid the changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region. Both foreign ministers shared views on setting the various agreements in the past between the two countries and the principles of law and justice as a basis for the solution of the issue, and on continuing discussion in a quiet and constructive environment. Moreover, the two foreign ministers confirmed that both countries will frequently conduct discussions at leaders', foreign ministerial, and vice ministerial levels. On the other hand, it became clear that there was a huge gap between the two countries in their positions on the territorial issue, including the meaning of the "principles of law and justice".
(2) Concerning the Russian Prime Minister's visit to Kunashiri Island, Minister Gemba clarified Japan's stance on the issue, stating that it was regrettable. In response, Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that he cannot accept Japan's protest. Both foreign ministers confirmed the importance of building mutual trust while considering the public sentiment of the other country.
3. Japan-Russia cooperation
(1) Security and defense
Both foreign ministers shared views on high evaluation of the Japan-Russia Security Consultation and the Japan-Russia Strategic Dialogue, and expressed their expectations toward active exchanges between defense authorities as well as units of the two countries. The foreign ministers also shared views on developing the Japan-U.S.-Russia Trilateral Conference, which had been held on a private basis, into a conference with government officials (1.5 track).
(2)Cooperation on the sea
Both foreign ministers confirmed the importance of the cooperation on the sea and shared views on promoting cooperation for concrete issues. The foreign ministers welcomed the concrete progress of the bilateral agreement concerning countermeasures against poaching and illegal export of marine products.
Both foreign ministers expressed their expectation toward further development of Japan-Russia economic relations from the viewpoint of mutual interest. Minister Gemba stated his expectation toward timely progress of the Japan-Russia cooperation projects amid Japan's smooth procurement of natural gas from overseas. Both foreign ministers expressed their expectations toward the realization of the Vladivostok LNG Project and the realization of the participation of Japanese enterprises in the Sakhalin 3 Project. Moreover, Minister Gemba welcomed Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In response, Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed his gratitude for Japan's support in the accession process. Minister Gemba pointed out the importance of providing the environment for investment and further strengthening the rule of law in Russia, and proposed the revision of the Japan-Russia Agreements on Investments. Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed his gratitude for Japan's cooperation toward the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Vladivostok.
4. Human/Parliamentary exchanges
Both foreign ministers pointed out the importance of human exchanges and cultural exchanges, including parliamentary exchanges.
5. International issues
(1) Both foreign ministers exchanged opinions on the recent situation in North Korea, and confirmed the continuation of close communication between Japan and Russia. Concerning the abduction issue of Japanese nationals, Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed solidarity with Japan.
(2) Concerning the situation in Syria, Foreign Minister Lavrov explained the basic position of Russia. In response, Minister Gemba asked Foreign Minister Lavrov to heed the voices of the international society and to play constructive roles in this issue.
(3) Both foreign ministers also discussed the situations and frameworks for cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, Iran's nuclear development issue, the situation in Europe and cooperation concerning the Arctic.
II. Courtesy Call on President Putin
1. Japan-Russia cooperation
Minister Gemba conveyed a message from Mr. Yoshihiko Noda, the Prime Minister of Japan, including his expectations for the next summit meeting. Minister Gemba also stated that amid the changing strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific region and intensified global competition, closer cooperation between Japan and Russia would serve the strategic interests of the both countries. Minister Gemba amentioned the potential of Japan-Russia cooperation in the development of Far East and Siberia and pointed out that such cooperation would become realistic if as mutual trust was to be deepened.
President Putin expressed his expectations for the diversification of fields of cooperation between Japan and Russia, and stated that he would like to support the advancement of Japanese enterprises into Russia. President Putin mentioned, in particular, expansion of cooperation in the fields of security, economy, energy, atomic power, space, countermeasures against poaching and illegal export of marine products, and cultural exchanges.
2. Territorial issue
Minister Gemba stated that Japan and Russia could become strong partners through the conclusion of a peace treaty. He also stated that he would like to seek a mutually acceptable solution while working to promote cooperation in every field, and that he wanted to continue discussions at leaders', foreign ministerial, and vice ministerial levels. President Putin stated that he would like to continue negotiations on a peace treaty in order to find a mutually acceptable solution Both parties shared the view on the recognition of the basic policy that both countries would hold positive discussions, while considering the public sentiment of the other country with mutual trust.
III. Future Schedule
1. Japan-Russia summit meeting
(1) The Russian side proposed a Japan-Russia summit meeting on the occasion of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vladivostok , and both sides concurred on making the arrangements.
(2) The foreign ministers will coordinate on Prime Minister Noda's visit to Russia.
2. Visit to Russia by former Prime Minister Mori
Minister Gemba conveyed the intention of Mr. Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Minister of Japan, to meet President Putin in order to renew their old friendship. In response, President Putin stated that he would be ready to meet Mr. Mori any time, and both sides agreed to coordinate Mr. Mori's visit to Russia.
(*The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original version in Japanese.)
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