TOKYO, July 19. /TASS/. Japan is in the final stage of negotiating Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Russia in late August, the Nikkei business daily reported on Sunday, adding that the foreign minister would be accompanied by a delegation of Japanese industry representatives.
Kishida is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the newspaper said. The trip, which is expected to take place on August 30-31, is aimed at discussing the countries’ conflicting claims over a string of islands called the Southern Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan alongside organising Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan by the end of the year.
The Nikkei said that a delegation of industry representatives would join the Japanese foreign minister on his trip to Russia. The Japanese government is currently negotiating the issue with representatives from energy, healthcare and agriculture industries, it said. The delegation is expected to include executives of ten various companies, the report said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday he had not yet set a date for his trip to Russia.
"As far as my visit to Moscow is concerned, nothing has been determined so far. Tokyo proceeds from the agreement reached and makes every effort to organise Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan this year at any convenient time," Kishida told a news conference.
The Japanese foreign minister’s visit to Russia was originally planned for last spring. However, the plans were not fulfilled due to events in Ukraine and Tokyo’s joining Western sanctions against Russia. This trip is considered as a very important part of preparations for the Russian president’s visit to Japan.
Tokyo has not confirmed its timeframe since last year, although it sent a respective invitation to Moscow a long time ago.
In early July, the Japanese government sent to Moscow Hajime Hayashi, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s European Affairs Bureau, to discuss plans for Kishida’s trip to Russia. Tokyo said the aim was to create a favourable atmosphere for Putin’s visit to Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after a summit of the Group of Seven industrial powers in Germany on June 8 that he hoped Putin would travel to Japan this year. Media later reported that the Russian leader’s visit was due to take place in December.
"As far as I know, there are no concrete dates on the agenda yet," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on media reports. "The Russian side has certainly always supported progressive development of bilateral relations between Russia and Japan, maintaining dialogue at all levels, including high and the highest levels. Of course, if the Japanese side demonstrates mutual readiness to maintain this dialogue, we will welcome it," he said.
Earlier, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said that a meeting of the two nations’ diplomats in Moscow in mid-February reiterated "the importance of joint work to prepare Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Tokyo". No exact dates of such visit were announced. The Kremlin confirmed back then that the president had received such an invitation from Tokyo.