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INTERVIEW: Japan, Russia should separate economy, peace Treaty

Tokyo, Nov. 20 (Jiji Press) — Russian business leader Alexander Shokhin has said that Russia-Japan economic cooperation should be promoted separately from negotiations on concluding a World War II peace treaty between the two countries.

In a recent interview with Jiji Press, Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said improvement in political relations between the two countries is favorable.

Noting that private-sector economic cooperation has no direct link with a peace treaty, he said progress in peace treaty negotiations should not be set as a condition for the promotion of such cooperation.

 

His comments came after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Singapore last week agreed to accelerate the negotiations.

 

Tokyo and Moscow have still been unable to conclude a peace treaty to formally end their World War II hostilities, blocked by their longstanding territorial dispute over four Russian-controlled northwestern Pacific islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan. The islands were seized by the former Soviet Union from Japan at the end of the war.

Shokhin said that Japanese companies’ foray into Russia under an eight-point economic cooperation plan Abe proposed to Putin in 2016 has made very good progress as a whole.

In particular, the promotion of health- and medical-field cooperation has been helpful for Russia, which is trying to raise the average life expectancy of its people, Shokhin said.

He cited digitalization of Russia’s economy and industries as a new priority, expressing his hope that Japan’s high-tech sector will increase its investment in and promote technological cooperation with Russia.

National leaders’ consensus-building mechanism has been jeopardized, he said, after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum member economies failed for the first time ever to produce a joint communique by their leaders, at their annual summit held in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, for two days through Sunday, mainly due to trade friction between the United States and China.

If a division is shown, again, at the two-day summit of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies in Buenos Aires from Nov. 30, the situation would become critical, Shokhin said.

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