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Russia, Japan discuss expansion of cooperation in eight areas of economy — Lavrov

The plan covers areas of the energy sector, medicine and high technology

VLADIVOSTOK, September 2. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have discussed the prospects of economic cooperation between the two countries, including the eight-point plan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday following the Putin-Abe meeting on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum.

"In economy, the conversation focused on the ideas put forward during Premier Abe’s visit to Sochi on May 6," the minister said. "He proposed at that time to develop an eight-point plan covering various areas - the energy sector, medicine and high technology. Today the Japanese colleagues presented detailed ideas. For our part, we supported this approach."

"By the way, between the meeting in Sochi and today’s summit, there have been numerous meetings of experts from the ministries for economic development, ministries for industry and trade and other agencies, at the level of governmental experts," Lavrov added. "We can say that work on a number of very lucrative major projects is nearing completion, and they are ready for implementation," he said.

Lavrov said the sides "agreed to do everything necessary to announce at least some of these projects during the upcoming visit of the Russian president to Japan, which, as our leaders have coordinated, will be planned before the end of this year," Lavrov said.

The Kurils issue

The Russian top diplomat went on to say that Moscow marks Tokyo’s readiness to discuss the possibility of joint economic activities on the Kuril Islands.

"We have been proposing our Japanese colleagues to tackle these issues for a long time, some time ago the cabinet of ministers was cautious about it," he said. 

"Now we feel the readiness of the Japanese partners to discuss issues related to the joint economic activities on the islands, and not only issues joint economic activities but also issues concerning exchanges between people," the minister said.

Joint investment fund

 Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said an opportunity of setting up a joint investment fund was discussed today at the meeting.

"Establishment of a joint fund of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the Development Bank of Japan was discussed in particular. Details will be examined further on by working groups within the intergovernmental commissions’ framework," the minister said.

According to Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev, the volume of the investment fund could reach $1 bln.

"It is not really big, so far $1 bln. A working group that we suggested earlier will probably be created," Ulyukayev said. 

The working group will be headed by the Russian Minister of Economic Development and the Japanese Minister of Economy and Trade Hiroshige Seko, Ulyukayev said.

"Technically, the Fund already exists, in the legal sense. But it does not operate yet, unfortunately. We are going to launch it by the end of the year," Ulyukayev said.

Sakhalin-2 and Yamal LNG projects

Energy Minister Novak went on to say that Putin and Abe discussed opportunities for Japan’s companies to participate in Sakhalin-2 and Yamal LNG projects.

"They discussed both existing projects and projects that will be reviewed in the future. As an opportunity, as an option in includes Sakhalin - 2, the third stage of Yamal LNG, delivery of additional LNG volumes to Japan," he said.

According to Novak, Putin and Abe also discussed cooperation in the field of renewable energy, including construction of a geothermal plant.

"It includes nuclear power industry, a joint venture for production of equipment for power industry," the Minister said.

He noted that the plan for cooperation between Russia and Japan was presented at the meeting. "The plan with a list of projects was submitted - all new, for the most part. They require special consideration, more thorough. Now it is just areas of cooperation," Novak said.

He noted that the plan includes proposals both from Russia and Japan.

"All this will be worked out additionally by working groups in the framework of the intergovernmental commission," Novak said.

Sakhalin-3 project, Arctic LNG

Russian Economic Development Minister Ulyukayev added that Putin and Abe also discussed Sakhalin-3 project, Arctic LNG. 

"Third stage of the Sakhalin-2 LNG project Arctic LNG and some others projects were discussed, as well as mining and processing projects," he said.

According to the minister, "the answers to some of our investment proposals" were received at the meeting. "We are moving to lift restrictions on lending projects, which, unfortunately, there are now for the Japanese business," said Ulyukayev.

According to the Minister, "answers to some of our investment proposals" were received at the meeting. "We are moving to lifting restrictions on lending projects, which, unfortunately, are currently non-existent for Japanese business," Ulyukayev said.

General Director of Mitsui & Co Moscow LLC Hiroshi Meguro told reporters earlier on Friday that Mitsui investment in expansion of Sakhalin-2 will total more than $1 bln. He noted that the company is also interested in the Sakhalin-3 project, but did not specify the colume of investment.

Sakhalin Energy is the Sakhalin-2 operator, the only operating Russian LNG project so far. Piltun-Astokhskoe and Lunskoe offshore fields undergo development within the project framework, with recoverable resources estimated at 150 mln tonnes of oil and 500 bln cubic meters of gas. Sakhalin Energy’s shareholders are Gazprom with a 50% stake, along with Royal Dutch Shell (27.5%), Mitsui (12.5%), and Mitsubishi (10%).