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TOKYO, March 19. /TASS/. Russia and Japan have good prospects for cooperation on the Kuril Islands in such spheres as fishing, tourism and medicine in the formats that don’t affect the two countries’ positions on the ownership of these territories, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Sunday.
"As for joint economic activities on fourth northern islands, an agreement was reached after a meeting of the two countries’ leaders in December 2016 to begin consultations on cooperation in fishing, aquaculture, tourism, medicine, ecology and other possible spheres," Kishida said in an interview with TASS ahead of a 2+2 meeting of Japanese and Russian foreign and defense ministers due to take place in Tokyo on March 20. "I think all of these spheres are promising bearing in mind the potential of the four northern islands with their rich nature and geographic conditions."
"A council of officials from the ministries and agencies concerned under my chairmanship has been set up in Japan," he said. "It looks into various matters to initiate concrete projects. On March 18, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov visited Japan. Apart from that, official consultations between deputy foreign ministers on that matter will be held in Tokyo."
"Of major importance is the fact that Japan and Russia are working together to outline a future appearance of the four islands," the minister stressed. "I would like our countries to do it in a constructive manner and in formats that would do no harm to Japan’s and Russia’s legal positions."
According to media reports, Tokyo has drafted a package of initiatives on joint economic activities in Southern Kurils. These include organization of cruise voyages around these islands, offering medical services to their population from Japan via the internet, etc.
Tokyo also plans to initiate a joint survey of the islands with an eye of identifying other possible areas for cooperation. Until now, no visible success has been reached in this sphere over Japan’s unwillingness to recognize Russia’s administration over Southern Kurils. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to reach progress on that matter with no prejudice to the countries’ positions.