Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held meetings in Nagato and Tokyo and took part in Russian-Japanese Business Forum during Putin’s visit to Japan on December 15-16. The two leaders agreed to instruct key strategists to begin consultations on joint economic activity on the Kuril Islands, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said following the results of the summit.
“First of all, it should be noted that Japan has taken the first step to meet Russia in the issue of joint economic activity on the Kurils,” professor Ueno said.
According to the Moscow Declaration on Establishing a Creative Partnership Between Japan and the Russian Federation, signed in 1998, a committee on joint economic activities on the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai should be established. However, since then no progress in this field has been made, Ueno stressed.
“If any progress is achieved after the recent meeting, it could be considered a diplomatic victory for Russia,” he said.
Joint economic activity on the Kuril Islands should not impair the Japanese government’s legal stance on the de jure ownership of the territories, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on December 16.
“Of course, joint economic activity in the Kuril Islands is not an easy task, as it implies the issue of the sovereignty over these territories in legal terms as well, unlike economic activities concerning building joint businesses in Moscow, Saint Petersburg or Vladivostok,” Ueno confirmed.
“It is why the leaders believe that if they make terms in joint economic activity, they will make the first step to sign the peace treaty,” he added.
The expert also said he sees the main purpose of the talks in restoring the relations between Russia and Japan to their level before the sanctions.
However, according to a survey, 54% of Japanese citizens have negative views of the recent meeting Putin and Abe, Kyodo news agency reported on December 18.
“Those Japanese people who hoped for progress in signing the peace treaty were disappointed with the results of the summit,” Ueno said. “However, those who expected the recovery of Russian-Japanese relations consider that the talks have reached their goal,” he added.
The expert also stressed that the two countries returned to a 2+2 dialogue, which can significantly contribute to the restoration of their relations as well.