MOSCOW, November 5. /TASS/. Japanese banks and development institutions may offer loans to Russian regional banks, which are not on the sanctions list, Japanese Minister for Economic Cooperation with Russia Hiroshige Seko said in an interview with TASS.
Earlier, The Nikkei business publication reported that in the run-up to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit, Japan's Financial Services Agency had asked major private banks to increase loans in Russia. Japanese banks’ lending in Russia has faced a sharp decline in recent years when Japan joined the Western sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis. However, the relations have been improving in the past months and the countries are in talks to increase lending.
"The banks might cooperate in the way that will not violate the sanctions regime," Seko said after talks in Moscow. "Russia has various banks, including regional ones and I hope we will find a new mechanism for cooperation."
When asked if Russian banks could seek for Japanese financing, Seko replied "there is such a possibility," but did not specify which banks and which projects could seek for it.
In October, the Japanese state-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) extended a $38.5-million loan to the Russian state-backed Sberbank and announced its investments in the Yamal LNG gas project.
The JBIC is likely to set up a special fund to invest in Russian projects together with the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
"The JBIC should play an important part in implementation of the cooperation in all eight dimensions," Seko said, meaning the eight-point economic cooperation plan of Russia and Japan.