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Tokyo to draw up cooperation plans for South Kurils and heed locals’ opinions

April 26, 17:37 UTC+3 TOKYO

Within the Council of Ministers, Hiroshige Seko is responsible for economic cooperation with Russia

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Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko

Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko

© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

TOKYO, April 26. / TASS/. Japan’s government is going to draw up proposals on joint economic activities in the South Kuril Islands, while taking into consideration the views of the Russians who live there, stated Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko in an exclusive interview with TASS.

He will accompany Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, during his talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for April 27.

Within the Council of Ministers, Hiroshige Seko is responsible for economic cooperation with Russia.

"Last December, he mentioned, the two leaders met in Japan and agreed to start consultations on possible cooperation in fishing, sea farming, tourism, healthcare and other fields within the framework of the ‘special system’ for the four Northern islands. In Japan, a special Council for Joint Economic Activity has been created to implement the agreement and I have been appointed its Chief Deputy. Now the ministers and bodies involved, are working to set out certain plans. I think we will be able to develop mutually beneficial projects if we efficiently use the potential of the islands, a territory with rich natural resources and geographic layout, and if we take the opinions of locals into consideration."

Minister Seko did not directly reply to the question on what his perfect model of economic partnership in the southern part of the Kuril Islands should look like. "If we start a joint economic activity on the islands, then it will be the first time that the Russians and the Japanese held coordinated work there, Seko stated.

"It would be great if we managed to strengthen mutual understanding and trust while building the future of these islands."

This March, the two countries’ deputy ministers held the first consultations in Tokyo on joint economic activities for the South Kuril Islands. The two sides exchanged their proposals, and it is likely that the issue will be finalized during the upcoming meeting on April 27 between the leaders of Russia and Japan. Prime Minister Abe is putting forward the idea of carrying out cooperation projects in the South Kuril Islands within the framework of the ‘special system’ so as not to contravene the legal stances of the countries regarding the status of these territories.

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