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Japan’s economy minister seeks to ensure implementation of bilateral accords with Russia

January 11, 2017, 11:00 UTC+3 TOKYO

Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko is embarking on a trip to Moscow to discuss documents signed during President Vladimir Putin’s December visit to Japan

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© AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

TOKYO, January 11. /TASS/. Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, who is embarking on a trip to Moscow on Wednesday, seeks to ensure the implementation of 68 documents on bilateral cooperation signed during President Vladimir Putin’s December visit to Japan.

"In Moscow, I would like to exchange views on ways of advancing our economic cooperation taking into account the December meeting between the leaders of the two countries," Seko, who is in charge of economic relations with Moscow, told TASS ahead of flying to the Russian capital.

The minister recalled that during Putin’s visit a total of 68 documents were signed on projects due to be implemented, in particular, regarding private companies. The agreements were reached based on Japan’s plan of cooperation in eight areas, among them energy, industry, urban economy, healthcare and infrastructure development.

"Now it is very important to implement these projects and turn them into genuine businesses that will provide equal gains for Japanese and Russian companies. And at the level of government we will cooperate to push forward with implementing the achieved agreements," he said.

"During the visit to Moscow we will hold talks also on those projects that are only being coordinated now. We would like to also look for new areas where we can work," the minister noted.

In an interview with TASS in December, Seko voiced concerns over the decline in bilateral trade linking this to the drop in oil prices, the ruble’s devaluation and problems in the Russian economy. However, regardless of these difficulties, Russia remains at the "forefront of prospects" for Japanese business, the minister said. Japanese-Russian contacts "have big prospects," he stressed.

Investments valued at $2.5 bln

Chairman of the Board of Marubeni Corporation, Teruo Asada, who also heads the Japanese-Russian Economic Committee at the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), in an interview with TASS last month voiced special interest in infrastructure and urban economy projects.

"What I find promising is the expansion of trade-related infrastructure in the Russian Far East as a window of opportunity for the Japanese-Russian business, the development of water and sewer systems, garbage disposal, cooperation in the health sector, agriculture, seafood processing and the timber industry," the businessman stated.

According to Japan’s government, the country’s overall investments as part of implementing those 68 documents will reach about 300 bln yen (about $2.54 bln).

Another area of Japanese-Russian cooperation may be joint economic activity in the South Kuril Islands. A joint statement after the December talks by the two leaders noted that consultations on this issue may become an important step towards a peace treaty. The Mainichi newspaper said that the Japanese government has already started gearing up for talks with Russia on this issue and the first inter-governmental consultations on joint activity in the South Kuril Islands will be held early this year.

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