Meeting Between Prime Minister Taro Aso and Chairman of Government of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
(Overview)

May 12, 2009

On May 12, Prime Minister Taro Aso held talks with Chairman of Government of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

Chairman Putin arrived in Japan on the evening of May 11 and stayed until the morning of May 13. On May 12, he attended the meeting of municipal leaders of Japan and Russia, held separate talks with two former prime ministers, Mr. Yoshiro Mori and Mr. Junichiro Koizumi, and attended the Japan-Russia Economic Forum and the dialogue of business leaders between the two countries, followed by talks with Mr. Ichiro Ozawa, President of the Democratic Party of Japan(DPJ) and Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, Secretary General of the DPJ. In the evening, Chairman Putin attended the publishing event of Japanese version of his book on judo, and enjoyed talks with Mr. Yasuhiro Yamashita, Professor of Tokai University.

(Summary)

  • Prime Minister Aso agreed on the importance of realizing the issues of interest of both sides in the Asia-Pacific region with Chairman Putin as well. The meeting became an important step toward lifting the Japan-Russia relationship to a higher plane.
  • With regard to the Northern Territories issue, Prime Minister Aso said that in order to lift the Japan-Russia relationship to a higher plane it was necessary to reach the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands, and called upon Russia to consider its stance on the issue in line with Japan's position.
  • In response, Chairman Putin said that there were some ideas of leaving the issue unresolved in Russia, although he was against such ideas, and explained that President Dmitry Medvedev was ready to discuss the territories issue in detail at the summit meeting in July, and expressed his expectation that all options toward its solution would be discussed at the summit meeting.
  • It is necessary to make sure if these Russia's responses at the summit level will lead to a change in Russia's stance with regard to the attribution of the four islands.
  • With regard to the area of economic and practical matters, both leaders agreed to advance mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of interest of the Russian side, including preparations for the APEC Summit in Vladivosto
  • Steady progress was made on building up practical cooperation naturally expected as the neighboring countries, with the signing of the Nuclear Energy Agreement, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), the Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA), and other outcome documents.

1. General Remarks (Significance of the Meeting)

Based on the recent series of summit meetings between Japan and Russia, it was agreed with Chairman Putin as well that (a) the two countries would build up the relationship as partners of strategic importance, for which (b) it was essential to realize the issues of interest of both sides in the Asia-Pacific region (i.e. the Northern Territories issue for the Japanese side and economic and practical cooperation mainly in the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia for the Russian side). The meeting became another important step toward lifting the Japan-Russia relationship to a higher plane, following the summit meeting in Sakhalin held in February.

2. Issues of Mutual Interest in the Asia-Pacific Region

(1) Northern Territories Issue

(a) Prime Minister Aso conveyed his honest impression that since the adoption of the Japan-Russia Action Plan in 2003, which was adopted by Chairman Putin during his presidency, only peace treaty negotiations hadn't made much progress. Expressing his respect for Chairman Putin's efforts for resolving this issue, Prime Minister Aso stated that it was necessary to reach the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands in order to lift the Japan-Russia relationship to a higher plane. He then called upon Russia to consider its stance on the issue of attribution in line with Japan's position.

(b) In response, Chairman Putin stated that although there are some ideas of leaving the issue unresolved in Russia, he was against such ideas and all obstacles toward the solution should be removed.

(c) Based on the above discussion, the two leaders agreed on the following points:

  • (i) Firstly, the lack of a peace treaty between the two countries is hindering the progress of bilateral relations in broad areas.
  • (ii) Secondly, in order to remove the obstacle of the territorial issue that exists between Japan and Russia, it is necessary to reach the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands.
  • (iii) Thirdly, in order to resolve the issue in our generation, the work should be accelerated to find a mutually acceptable way to get out of the current situation, based on the agreements and documents which both parties have achieved.

(d) In relation to this, Chairman Putin explained that President Dmitry Medvedev was ready to discuss the territories issue in detail at the summit meeting in July, and expressed his expectation that all options toward its solution would be discussed at the summit meeting. Prime Minister Aso asked to tell President Medvedev that he was looking forward to hearing an explanation on works of Russian side based on the discussion of the summit meeting in Sakhalin during the meeting in July in Italy.

(e) Through this meeting, it was confirmed that Chairman Putin also shares a strong commitment to reach the final solution of the issue, which had an important meaning toward the summit meeting in July. On the other hand, it is necessary to make sure if these Russia's responses at the summit level would lead to a change in Russia's stance with regard to the issue of the attribution of the four islands.

(2) Economic and Practical Cooperation

Both leaders agreed to advance mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of interest of the Russian side, including preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vladivostok to be held in 2012, as well as energy development, energy saving, and transportation. Chairman Putin also mentioned the possibility of cooperation in other areas including telecommunication, nanotechnology, and aerospace. Details of the talks on the individual items are outlined below.

At the signing ceremony held after the meeting, the outcome documents in the Appendix were signed. The two leaders also confirmed the substantial conclusion of the negotiations for an agreement on simplifying visa procedures. Steady progress was made on building up practical cooperation naturally expected as the neighboring countries.

(a) Cooperation in the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia

Both leaders agreed that the APEC Summit in Vladivostok to be held in 2012 would serve as a symbolic step toward integrating the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia into the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, on the request to consider the list of specific projects presented by the Russian side, it was agreed that Japan and Russia would advance considerations in a cooperative manner.

(b) Energy

With regard to the area of energy, there was a discussion toward formulation of mutually beneficial projects to follow the Sakhalin II Project. In particular, Prime Minister Aso expressed his continued interest in the natural gas from the Sakhalin I Project. Chairman Putin mentioned the possibility of cooperation in the Sakhalin III and succeeding projects, as well as the plan to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and petroleum processing plant in Vladivostok and the Eastern Siberia-Pacific pipeline.

On the occasion of Chairman Putin's visit to Japan, the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and Irkutsk Oil Company (INK) agreed to expand the area of the oil field to be targeted for the joint exploration project currently underway in Eastern Siberia. This would be a second joint exploration project in Eastern Siberia following the agreement in April 2008.

(c) Nuclear Energy

With respect to the Agreement for peaceful use of Nuclear Energy, both sides expressed an expectation that in case of its entry into force mutually beneficial cooperation including private sector initiatives would be promoted, in light of the plan to build 28 nuclear facilities in Russia by sometime between 2020 and 2022.

(d) Transportation

Prime Minister Aso pointed out the delay of the work of the Working group between the two governments on cooperation in the area of transportation, including cooperation to stimulate logistics between Europe (including Russia) and Asia using the Trans-Siberian Railway. Chairman Putin responded that the issue will be thoroughly addressed.

(e) Protective Tariffs Imposed by Russia

Prime Minister Aso requested Russia's cooperation for overcoming the global financial and economic crisis, and for forestalling the emergence of protectionism, referring that Russia had increased tariffs on certain goods repeatedly in spite of its commitment made at the Summit Meeting on Financial Markets and the World Economy (G20) . The Russian side responded that it supports the G20 agreement, and that the global financial crisis was not the sole reason for imposition of protective tariffs, which had been announced several years before. Chairman Putin also said that they took the measures for the benefits for purchasing new cars to expand the domestic demand, and that some of the tariffs have been lowered.

3. International Situations

North Korea, U.S.-Russia relations, Afghanistan, Iran, and other regional affairs were mentioned.

On North Korea, Prime Minister Aso stated that it was necessary to bring the Six-Party Talks back on track as it was the most realistic framework for advancing denuclearization of North Korea. In response, Chairman Putin said that the Six-Party Talks must be resumed to break the current deadlock and that the talks must be restarted from where they had stopped.


Appendix
List of the Outcome Documents

(Documents signed at the signing ceremony are marked ◎)
(Documents to be enacted after legislative approval, etc., in both countries are marked *;
Others are enacted by signature)

Documents of International Commitment

◎ Treaty between Japan and the Russian Federation on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters *

(Signatories: Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakasone and Minister of Justice Konovalov)

[The two sides will provide mutual legal assistance as an obligation under the treaty and enable direct communication between the central authorities in order to streamline and speed up the process of mutual legal assistance.]

◎ Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Russian Federation for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy *

(Signatories: Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakasone and Director General of Rosatom Kiriyenko)

[The two sides will establish a legal framework on the transfer of nuclear materials, equipments and technologies between Japan and Russia on the premise of their peaceful use.]

◎ Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Russian Federation Regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters

(Signatories: Minister for Foreign Affairs Nakasone and Director General of the Federal Customs Service Belyaninov)

[The two sides will cooperate in sharing of information between customs authorities, as well as in simplification and harmonization of customs procedures.]

Documents of Other Agreements

◎ Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan and the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation in the Fields of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Use

(Signatories: Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nikai and Minister of Energy Shmatk)

[The two sides will reinforce cooperation between the authorities and business initiatives in the area of energy saving and renewable energy.]

◎ Joint Statement Between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan and the State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy Use

(Signatories: Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Nikai and Director General of Rosatom Kiriyenko)

[The two sides will strengthen cooperation in the area of nuclear energy, including the launching of a dialogue between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Rosatom.]

◎ Memorandum between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Russian Federation concerning the bases of future cooperation in the fields of preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of living marine resources and illicit of fishery products

(Signatories: Ambassador of Japan to Russia Kono and Head of the State Committee of Fisheries Krainy)

[The two sides will strengthen cooperation between the authorities and continue to step up the exchange of information and opinions.]

● Cooperation Program between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Russian Federation in the neighboring areas of two on the Study, Conservation and Rational/ Sustainable Use of Ecosystems

(Signatories: Ambassador of Japan to Russia Kono and Deputy Foreign Minister Borodavkin)

[The two sides will work on public-private cooperation for conserving ecosystems in the neighboring areas of Japan and Russia.]

● Implementing Arrangement concerning the Long-Term Storage Facility for the Reactor Compartment Units of Dismantled Nuclear Submarines in the Far East of the Russian Federation

(Signatories: Ambassador of Japan to Russia Kono and Deputy Director General of Rosatom Evstratov)

[The two sides will set a framework for the cooperative project for constructing storage facility to store reactor compartments of the dismantled nuclear submarines which currently remain stored off-shore off the Russian Far East.]

Documents Signed between Non-Governmental Bodies
On the Occasion of Chairman Putin's Visit to Japan

● MOU for cooperation between Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) and Vnesheconombank (VEB)

● MOU on cooperation between the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the VEB

● Agreement on the new joint exploration project for oil fields between the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and Irkutsk Oil Company (INK)


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