Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko spoke in a Mainichi Shimbun interview on Wednesday about the upcoming Japan-Russia summit meetings. In regard to the areas of economic cooperation he said, “During the ceremony for exchanging memorandums (scheduled for Dec. 16), an announcement will be made on an agreement on public-sector joint projects such as in postal systems that are separate from private-sector agreements.” According to a government source, about a dozen public-sector agreements are currently planned.
The two governments have been evaluating and finalizing agreements on actual projects selected from the eight-point economic cooperation plan. The plan involves such areas as healthcare, urban development, exchange of small and medium-size businesses, energy and expansion of human exchanges. The leaders are scheduled to exchange a memorandum of agreement on Dec. 16.
Under the agreement, Japan Post will provide its know-how for reducing the number of days needed in the Russian postal system for delivery. Japanese equipment will be introduced to enable efficient mail sorting. Other public joint projects in the areas of urban development and energy are also being finalized.
As for the private-sector agreements, the minister said, “They are moving quicker and more smoothly than previously expected. (In addition to 30 projects initially planned,) a number of new projects have been proposed,” referring to a possibility that the final number of projects will be substantially larger than thirty. The projects must show that they are cost-efficient and beneficial to Japanese corporations, Seko explained.
Further, the minister pointed out that the amount of trade between Japan and Russia after the agreement on the economic cooperation projects will “grow steadily after five or some more years.”
As for the peace treaty including a solution to the Northern Territories issues, the minister expressed a hope for the role played by the economic cooperation in moving the negotiations forward, saying, “If our economic ties are strengthened, it will invite a virtuous cycle of stronger economic ties and political stability.”