Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks following talks with Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, Moscow, May 10, 2019
In accordance with the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe on facilitating dialogue on a peace treaty based on the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, today my colleague Taro Kono and I have held the third round of talks. The first two rounds took place in January and February.
We exchanged opinions as regards reaching such agreements that would fully correspond to our countries' interests and be unambiguously supported and accepted by their peoples. This is a difficult task. Obviously, it can be solved through lengthy, meticulous and creative efforts. It is necessary to take Russia-Japan relations to a totally new level through the comprehensive development of bilateral links as was repeatedly mentioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin. I believe that we and our Japanese neighbours share the view that it is necessary to move in that direction.
For our part, we particularly emphasised that work based on the Soviet–Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956 means, above all, full acknowledgment of the results of World War II, which is formalised in the UN Charter. Another important aspect concerns security issues. The Joint Declaration was developed and signed in specific historical and geopolitical conditions. The situation has drastically changed since then, and we have to consider that today Japan-US Security Treaty is in effect. We again noted a number of actions by Washington, including the deployment of global ballistic missile defence elements on Japanese territory, actions to build up its military presence in the region, and general activities in disarmament and arms control, where the United State is violating all existing agreements. We see these actions as a threat to our country.
We noted with satisfaction that there is a comprehensive basis for boosting joint efforts to increase the quality of the Russian-Japanese dialogue. In the past year, five meetings have taken place between the Russian President and the Japanese Prime Minister. Today, we have considered the schedule of further contacts at the high and highest levels. Talks between our foreign and defence ministers are held on a regular basis in the 2+2 format. The next, fourth, meeting in this format will take place in Tokyo on May 30.
In accordance with our leaders' agreement on providing for mutual relations of a comprehensive nature, we paid particular attention to trade and economic cooperation. Last year, mutual trade grew by 17 per cent and reached over $21 billion. Although it has a long way to go to beat the 2013 record of $33 billion, there is positive momentum, and it is ongoing this year. We have agreed to continue work to further boost economic ties.
Our inter-parliamentarians and inter-party exchanges are improving as well. Near-term plans include a visit to Japan by a delegation led by Andrey Turchak, Deputy Speaker of the Russian Federation Council and Secretary of the United Russia Party's General Council.
We noted the expansion of our contacts at the regional level. The revival of the Russia-Japan Council of Governors following its nine-year hiatus will be an important event. The Council will convene on May 13.
We praised the implementation of the reciprocal Year of Russia in Japan and Year of Japan in Russia, a unique initiative in the history of our bilateral relations.
We discussed in detail establishing joint economic activities on the southern Kuril Islands. We gave a positive assessment to the fifth round of talks on joint economic activities that took place at the level of deputy foreign ministers last month. We agreed to focus on specifying cooperation projects that are currently at an advanced coordination stage to develop corresponding business models. Our aim is to come up with truly mutually beneficial plans of practical cooperation that would meet the interests of participating companies and the socioeconomic development objectives of the neighbouing regions - I am speaking of the Sakhalin Region and the Hokkaido Prefecture - and to ultimately strengthen trust and neighbourliness between our countries.
Soon, a dialogue will begin on coordinating legal aspects of implementing the joint economic activities. The working group, which was set up specifically for considering legal aspects of this sphere of cooperation, will meet here in Moscow on May 20.
On May 21, Moscow will also host a meeting of another working group, which will work on coordinating visa-free travel for residents of the Sakhalin Region and the Hokkaido Prefecture. We welcomed the successful coordination of the plan for visa-free exchanges between Russian citizens residing in the southern Kuril Islands and Japanese citizens for 2019.
Our cooperation in combating new challenges and threats deserves a positive assessment as well - in particular, as part of the successfully implemented projects of Russia, Japan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. These projects helped train over 150 law enforcement officers involved in efforts to counter drug trafficking from Afghanistan and countries in Central Asia. The training is underway at the All-Russian Advanced Training Institute of the Russian Ministry of the Interior in Domodedovo. In addition, last year a new Russian-Japanese project was launched under the aegis of the UN - I am speaking about establishing a police canine unit for Afghanistan's law enforcement agencies.
We exchanged opinions on a number of pressing issues on the global and regional agendas, including the developments on the Korean Peninsula, and our relations in the UN and the G20, with a view to the summit to take place in Osaka, Japan, in late June.
I think our talks were very useful. We will maintain regular contacts, including, as I have mentioned, the next meeting in Tokyo in late May.