Japan-Russia Summit Meeting (in Sakhalin)
(Overview)

(photo) President Medvedev and Prime Minister Aso
(Photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office)

February 18, 2009

On February 18, 2009, Prime Minister Taro Aso visited Sakhalin to attend the start-up ceremony of the liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant of the Sakhalin II Project, and held a summit meeting with Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, President of the Russian Federation. The overview of the summit meeting is as follows. President Medvedev expressed his great pleasure in Prime Minister Aso's attendance at the ceremony, and the summit meeting was held in a highly congenial atmosphere.

(Summary)

  • The summit meeting became an important step forward in the establishment of a strategic relationship in the Asia-Pacific region between Japan and Russia. Based on the results of the summit meeting held in November 2008, the concrete work has been launched regarding the issues of mutual interest of both sides in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • With regard to the Northern Territories issue, the both leaders agreed on the following points: a) The issue should be resolved in their generation, b) They will work based on the agreements and the documents which both parties have achieved, c) They will work under a "new, original and nonstandard approach," as instructed by President Medvedev, and d) Additional instructions should be given in order to accelerate the work to reach the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands.
  • With regard to the cooperation in the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia, the both leaders agreed on the formation of concrete projects, with public and private sectors working together. In this connection, the both leaders welcomed the concrete progress of cooperation, such as the participation of Japanese companies in the construction of the bridge towards the island, the venue of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vladivostok to be held in 2012.
  • The both leaders agreed to seek the possibility of holding a Japan-Russia summit meeting on the occasion of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, scheduled to be held on April 2, 2009, in London. The both leaders also agreed that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would pay a visit to Japan in May. Furthermore, it was decided to accelerate political dialogue between the leaders of Japan and Russia, including arrangement of a summit meeting on the occasion of the forthcoming G8 Summit in Italy in July.

1. General Remarks (Significance of the Summit)

(1) This summit meeting became an important step forward in the establishment of a strategic relationship between Japan and Russia in the Asia-Pacific region, held on the commemorative day of the full-scale launch of the Sakhalin II Project.

(2) The Sakhalin II Project will lead to greater diversification in energy supply for Japan and from the perspective of energy security, the summit meeting has strategically important meaning.

(3) Based on the results of the summit meeting held in November 2008, the concrete work has been launched regarding the mutual interest in the Asia-Pacific region.

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

(1) Northern Territories Issue

(a) In-depth discussions were held in a small-group meeting on the Northern Territories issue, and the both leaders agreed on the following points.

  • (i) Firstly, the issue should be resolved in their generation.
  • (ii) Secondly, work should be performed based on the agreements and the documents which both parties have achieved.
  • (iii) Thirdly, work should be performed under a "new, original and nonstandard approach," as instructed by President Medvedev.
  • (iv) Fourthly, additional instructions should be given in order to accelerate the work to reach the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands, or the demarcation of national borders.

(b) In particular, with regard to the approach announced by President Medvedev in (a) (iii), Japan considers that it has the potential to provide a new direction in peace treaty negotiations, and for this reason, having agreed to work together under this new approach, it was agreed that efforts would be strengthened towards the solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands.

(c) The details of the talks on the issue of the Northern Territories were as follows:

  • (i) Prime Minister Aso stated that President Medvedev's concrete instructions on the issue of the Northern territories, given to the officials concerned after the Japan-Russia Summit Meeting of last November, reflected the President's firm will to solve the issue, and as such he was delighted. The Prime Minister also expressed his intention to aim for the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands with a "new, original, and nonstandard approach",which was set out by the President, based on the agreements and the documents which both parties have achieved.
  • (ii) In response, President Medvedev said that he was prepared to continue the work to find a mutually acceptable solution of the issue, and that in his opinion the issue, just like other issues in the world, was resoluble.
  • (iii) Based on the above-mentioned talks, the both leaders agreed to give additional instructions to the officials concerned to accelerate the concrete work, to reach the final solution of the issue of the attribution of the four islands in order to solve the issue in their generation.

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

With regard to mutually beneficial cooperation in the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia, the following points were agreed on:

(a) The public and private sectors will work together towards the formation of concrete projects. In this connection, in June this year a Far East Mission of the Japan Association for Trade with Russia & NIS will be dispatched, and in autumn there will be a meeting of subcommittee for regional exchanges at vice-minister level within the framework of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Affairs.

(b) It is welcomed that as a part of Japan's cooperation for the APEC summit meeting held in Vladivostok in 2012, Japanese companies (IHI Corporation and ITOCHU Corporation) have decided to participate in the construction of a bridge towards Russky Island, the venue of the meeting, by providing technical cooperation.

(c) Concerning the possibility of new cooperation in the production and supply of natural gas in the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia, discussions will take place under the comprehensive cooperation framework between the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of Japan and Gazprom.

(d) With regard to cooperation in the protection of eco-systems in the Sea of Okhotsk that lies next to Sakhalin, and in the adjacent territories of Japan and Russia, including the Northern Territories, the both leaders welcomed that the program agreed on in July 2008 was expected to be signed in the near future. Moreover, it was decided to start a coordinatinon for holding a symposium in the near future that would bring experts in this field together from both countries.

3. Political Dialogue

Based on the agreement reached at the summit meeting held in November 2008, that is, intensive dialogues between leaders would take place in 2009, the following tentative schedule was agreed:

(a) It was decided to seek the possibility of holding a Japan-Russia summit meeting on the occasion of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, scheduled to be held on April 2, 2009, in London.

(b) Prime Minister Putin will visit Japan in May.

(c) Furthermore, it was decided to accelerate political dialogue between the leaders of Japan and Russia, including the coordination to hold a summit meeting on the occasion of the G8 Summit in Italy in July.

4. Issue over "the Migration Card"

The both leaders confirmed that the four-island non-visa exchange program was important from the viewpoint of establishing trust, and that the both sides had a will to continue the program. Based on the above points, the both leaders agreed to make the officials concerned to work immediately to solve this problem in an amicable and constructive way.

5. Other Issues

(1) Participation in the International Conference on Afghanistan held by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Japan conveyed its will to attend the international conference on Afghanistan that was proposed by Russia as the chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to be held in Moscow at the end of March. This will be the first time for Japan to participate in a meeting held by the SCO.

(2) Global Economy

(a) Prime Minister Aso stated that with the world economy downturn, we should beware of the emergence of protectionism, and expressed concern, having increased tariffs on certain goods imposed by Russia in mind.

(b) In response, President Medvedev stated that although Russia was prepared to make efforts in accordance with the agreement reached at the G20 Summit in Washington D.C., there were exceptional measures. He also expressed support for the initiatives taken by Japan to find a way out of the international financial crisis.

(c) In addition, the both leaders confirmed that both countries had responsibility in common for the global economy, and agreed that they would cooperate closely for the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy to be held in London in April.


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