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Japanese-Russian relations - to a new level

Japanese-Russian relations - to a new level

Rokuitiro Mitii

Minister of the Japanese Embassy in Russia

Rokuitiro Mitsii, Minister of the Embassy of Japan in Russia:

- In late April last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a visit to Moscow. This is the first official visit of the leader of Japan to Russia in the last ten years. The Prime Minister was accompanied by a large economic mission of about 140 people, including about 40 leaders of leading Japanese companies. The direction of such a large-scale high-level economic mission from Japan is unprecedented not only for Russia, but also for Japanese history. This became a signal for both countries.

The subsequent events and contacts, including at the highest level, showed the effectiveness of the new approach. Today it seems relevant not only to highlight the main areas of economic cooperation between our countries, but also to recall the events of last year.

Thus, during his April stay in Moscow, Prime Minister S. Abe met with President V.V. Putin, and also spoke at the Japan-Russia Forum held in Moscow with the participation of representatives of the economic circles of the two countries. “Japanese-Russian relations are fraught with the richest potential opportunities. We are neighbors who can bring great mutual benefit to each other, ”he said. The Prime Minister pointed out the importance of raising Japanese-Russian economic relations to a higher level.

President V.V. During a joint press conference following the summit, Putin also said: “Japan is our neighbor and a natural partner for us. Russian-Japanese cooperation is developing dynamically, based on the principles of trust and mutual benefit. <...> We agreed to intensify work in all areas. " In addition, during the Japan-Russian Forum, First Deputy Prime Minister I.I. Shuvalov announced his intention to raise Japanese-Russian economic relations to even greater heights.

The Summit coincided with the adoption of a Joint Statement by the Prime Minister of Japan and the President of the Russian Federation on the development of the Japanese-Russian partnership. In addition, in the presence of the leaders of the two countries, cooperation was confirmed in traditional areas such as energy and transport, and a number of documents were signed on cooperation on specific projects in new areas, including medicine, agriculture and urban infrastructure. The leaders also agreed to hold public-private consultations to discuss cooperation in the Far East and Eastern Siberia, to which Russia attaches great importance. A decision was taken to create an investment platform with the participation of the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Vnesheconombank (VEB) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). First of all, a mechanism was created for investment and lending for a total amount of up to 1 billion dollars in order to implement projects with the participation of Japanese and Russian companies.

During the summit, the parties agreed to start new consultations between the foreign ministers and the defense ministers (2 + 2), jointly instructed their foreign ministries to expedite negotiations on the peace treaty, and determined the vectors for the development of Japanese-Russian relations in all spheres.

Below, we will touch upon a new situation and further prospects for Japanese-Russian relations, focusing on the economic sphere.

Strengthening traditional areas of cooperation

Traditionally, Japan and Russia cooperate in the field of oil and gas. Since 1990-s, there has been cooperation with the participation of Japanese companies in the framework of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 oil and gas projects. The share of imports of Russian oil to Japan, which in the middle of 2000's was only 1%, has now grown to almost 10%. The liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant within the Sakhalin-2 project was designed by a Japanese company with an environmental concern and is the only one in Russia.

For Japan, still heavily dependent on supplies from the Middle East, geographically extremely close Russia is a natural partner in terms of diversifying energy sources.

The Asia-Pacific market is becoming important for Russia, due to the need to develop new production areas, the relevance of the transition to the development of shale oil and offshore production areas in the Arctic Ocean, the situation on the European market in recent years and the emergence of new pricing schemes, as well as the situation With the commercialization of shale gas production in North America. During the recent summit, the leaders of the two countries "welcomed the completion of the construction of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline system and stressed the importance of building up bilateral energy cooperation in the oil and gas sector on mutually beneficial terms, including in Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, including Supply of energy resources at competitive prices taking into account market conditions. There were new developments after that, including the signing of a memorandum on the Vladivostok-LNG project. In addition, 29 May, an agreement was concluded on cooperation between INPEX and Rosneft in the development of the Magadan deposit in the northern part of the Sea of ​​Okhotsk.

Cooperation is conducted not only in the energy sector, but also in the production sector. For example, such leading Japanese manufacturers as Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Suzuki have already built their factories for assembling cars in different regions of Russia. Currently, the share of Japanese cars in the Russian market reaches almost 20%.

The creation of industry in new areas of cooperation

Since the Soviet years, Russia has been strong in such large industrial areas as aviation, astronautics and nuclear power. Today, in order to develop the country and raise the standard of living of citizens, Russia faces the task of diversifying industrial structures and creating infrastructure. In addition, from a geographical point of view, the task is the balanced development of the European part of Russia and the regions of the Far East and Siberia.

The economic mission that accompanied Prime Minister S. Abe during his visit to Russia consisted of representatives of companies in the following three main areas: medicine, agriculture and food, urban infrastructure. Earlier, in these areas, bilateral relations may not have received sufficient attention. However, each of them is directly connected with the everyday life of Russians, and this time they are in the field of view of the two countries. We believe that the creation of a "new industry" in Russia in these new spheres could contribute to the coordination of the structure of the Russian economy.


Japan is among the countries with the highest life expectancy in the world. The average life expectancy in the country is 84. One of the secrets of this is the high level of Japanese medicine. We hope that familiarizing Russia with high medical technologies and equipment from Japan will make a great contribution to improving the quality of life for Russians. In the field of medicine, fruitful cooperation has been conducted for many years, including in the field of endoscopy. It seems that cooperation in such areas as research and drug development, advanced medicine using the latest medical equipment for radiation therapy for the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer is promising. Equipment for the treatment of this disease using proton and baryon rays has been installed and is already operating in more than 10 medical institutions in Japan. During the current visit of the Prime Minister to Russia, representatives of the two countries signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of radiation therapy equipment at the Far Eastern Federal University. In addition, 28 in May in the suburbs of Vladivostok opened the diagnostic center "Hokuto" with equipment for computed tomography - the first medical institution established by the Japanese-Russian joint venture. Representatives of the two countries will also consider ideas for creating medical institutions using Japanese medical technology. I would like to hope for their speedy implementation.

Agriculture and food

Another secret of Japanese longevity is a rich variety of foods, balanced and low-calorie Japanese cuisine. During the current visit of the Prime Minister to Russia, a reception was held at which representatives of various circles of Russia could taste real Japanese food made from Japanese products. Japanese agriculture, which serves as a source of ingredients for Japanese cuisine, will be one of the promising areas for expanding new opportunities for cooperation with Russia. During the current visit of the Prime Minister, representatives of the Hokkaido Bank and the administration of the Amur Region signed a memorandum on cooperation in the agricultural sector. A number of projects have already been successfully launched, including the sowing of buckwheat seeds in the field. It is expected that cooperation in this area will develop not only in the Amur Region, but also in other regions of the Far East, including the Primorsky Territory, which is climatically considered the closest to the Japanese Tohoku region, as well as in the southern regions of Russia.

Given the potential of the fertile land of Russia, it can become a stable supplier to the world food markets as a "breadbasket of the world" and will benefit itself and the world if it increases production efficiency and grows competitive products for export. Russia has sufficient potential to become such an agricultural power. We hope that Japanese-Russian cooperation in this area, using ecological clean Japanese technologies and know-how, will bear fruit. It can be said that this is an important branch of industry from the point of view of the development of the Far East.

Urban environment

Touch and raise the level of the urban environment. This is a multi-faceted problem, including housing and transportation problems, waste disposal problems. Currently, the major cities of Russia are developing rapidly. At the same time, many tasks emerge that need to be addressed. Among them - providing people with comfortable housing, highly efficient and stable heat and power supply, mitigating the problem of traffic congestion, technologies and equipment for waste disposal and recycling, infrastructure. These problems have much in common with the problems that Japan faced in the past in a period of rapid economic growth. Japan has many years of experience in solving these problems in a limited country. Since 1950, housing and environmental policies have changed approximately every ten years, depending on the degree of economic development. It seems that Japan can contribute to solving these problems by sharing with Russia its experience in overcoming them and the high technologies acquired during this process.

To this end, a joint public-private working subcommittee on the problems of the urban environment was created between Japan and Russia, within the framework of which a discussion was initiated on specific cooperation projects.

An example is the urgent problem of waste disposal. During the current visit of Prime Minister S. Abe to Russia, a memorandum on the construction of the facility was drawn up with the latest Japanese waste disposal equipment. In Japan, trash is mostly burned. There are 1700 waste incinerators in the country, which is two thirds of all similar facilities in the world. Recently, the introduction of non-hazardous furnaces for gasification and smelting of waste has been introduced. Japan also went through landfill, the emergence of infectious diseases, incineration and came to the introduction of the world's most advanced gasification melting technology. These furnaces do not emit harmful gases, the garbage is almost completely destroyed, and a small amount of residues is used in secondary production. The heat generated during this process is reused to generate electricity. The introduction of such ecological clean and energy efficient facilities could make a great contribution to solving this problem in Russia. In addition, the list of problems that Russia has to solve is the problem of housing and public utilities, encouraging the use of thermal insulation materials that play a particularly important role in the winter, and others. To solve them, you can also use the technologies and experience of Japan.

Tasks for development of cooperation

Such diversification and modernization of industry in various fields is a task that requires large-scale and long-term work. From the point of view of the huge investments and technological capacities necessary for this, cooperation with other countries, in particular the use of foreign investments, will be key here.

At the same time, various procedural and system restrictions, primarily customs, tax, as well as work permits and the construction of factories, are pointed out as a problem. How can improvements be made to simplify and rationalize these procedures? Russia itself defines its internal systems. However, aligning the systems to international standards will allow companies to drastically reduce their costs and increase their international competitiveness. Secondly, the creation of infrastructure, which is referred to in different regions, primarily in the Far East. Creating a transport, port, warehouse infrastructure is really important. The decline in efficiency is also inevitable in the power industry, which has been a well-developed sphere since Soviet times. In addition, building and strengthening transport infrastructure leading to the European part of Russia is vital for Far Eastern manufacturing plants. Thirdly, probably, we can talk about such factors as overcoming the psychological barrier. From this point of view, Russia's accession to the WTO is of great importance. Bringing internal systems in line with WTO standards has an important meaning from the point of view of increasing transparency and predictability. 

Fourthly, raising the necessary funds. Nowadays, in different countries, public-private partnership is being introduced as a new method of such attraction. On the other hand, in industries where purely government projects should be carried out, support from the government will certainly be needed. If we look at history, we can take as an example the Shinkansen ultrafast railway network, considered the embodiment of Japanese technology (during the powerful Fukushima earthquake in 2011, all Shinkansen trains moving at 270 km / h could safely stop). When Japan began its construction in the 1950-ies, funds were raised through a loan from the World Bank. 

Fifth, I would like to note the need to develop the related industry. For example, the stable development of the above-mentioned Japanese-Russian joint projects in the automotive industry depends on whether the parties are able to create a reliable accompanying industry (medium and small component manufacturing plants). This applies not only to the automotive industry. From the point of view of opportunities for foreign companies to enter the Russian market in the sphere of medium and small enterprises, it is important to structurally improve the trading and investment climate, which was mentioned above in the first place. Various industrial zones can also be an effective tool. It is important to make their content truly attractive to investors.

In conclusion

Between Japan and Russia there are different projects not only in such a traditional sphere of cooperation, as energy, but also in new spheres, in particular in three important areas (medicine, agriculture and urban environment). They will become a very important driving force in terms of the real development of Japanese-Russian relations.

At the same time, there are still problems that need to be overcome. Among them - the difference in business practices and the mutual coordination of the systems of Japan and Russia. Our countries conduct a dialogue on a systemic aspect in order to improve the trade and investment climate in Russia. We hope that this will contribute to the increase in the investment rating that Russia is striving for.

Such ongoing efforts by Japan and Russia will bring beneficial results for the two countries and for the international community. Such cooperation has great potential not only for politics and the economy, but also for exchanges in the fields of culture, art, sports, etc. During the current Japanese-Russian forum, one of the leaders of Japanese companies noted that the Russians and the Japanese are very close in their feelings. Such a unity of feelings and goals in two different countries gives us great hope that in the future Japan and Russia will become true partners sharing common values. 

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