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Japan urges Russia to provide guarantees joint energy projects will proceed uninhibited

Japan hopes the Russian authorities will make sure energy projects involving foreign capital go ahead unfettered.

"This is an indispensable condition if they want to attract foreign investment, and this applies not only to Russia, but to all countries," Japanese Ambassador to Russia Yasuo Saito told Interfax.

"In instances when the Russian government and Russian companies attract foreign investment, or implement joint projects with foreign partners, it is important that areas of interaction and economic expediency be discussed in sufficient detail, and that project management be unrestricted and based on mutual understanding," he said.

Problems arose in autumn 2006 over the Sakhalin-2 project, in which Japanese companies have stakes, "and questions emerged concerning the Russian regulatory agencies' plans," he said.

"We hope the project will be implemented on schedule in the future," the Japanese diplomat said.

A planned meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the current summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization in Sydney will largely determine future Russian-Japanese relations, the Japanese ambassador to Russia said.

At their last meeting at the Group of Eight summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Putin and Abe raised the issues of a proposed Russian-Japanese peace treaty to put a formal end to Moscow-Japan confrontation during World War II and the four South Kuril islands, which the Soviet Union annexed during that war and which Japan wants back, the ambassador, Yasuo Saito, told Interfax.

Tokyo has refused to sign a peace treaty until Moscow returns the islands.
"As regards the [South Kurils] problem, Japan and Russia still share the opinion that efforts are needed to seriously look for a solution that is acceptable to both sides," Saito said.

He also called for more extensive Japanese-Russian relations.

"In any case, today the degree of development of bilateral relations can in no way be called satisfactory if one bears in mind the potential of these relations," he said.
Speaking on nuclear problems the ambassador said Tokyo was not inclined to overstate the progress reached at six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program and calls for more intensive efforts.

"We must closely watch North Korea, without being too optimistic about the current situation," he said.

Japan believes that the parties should sign and implement an agreement at the next stage of the resolution of the issues surrounding North Korea's nuclear problem in the shortest possible time, he said.

"Japan will be actively involved in such discussions. Both Japan and Russia support close cooperation in the framework of the six-party talks. We are going to continue this cooperation to attain our common goal of making the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free," the ambassador said.

Japan is also planning to start developing its relations with North Korea: the Japan-North Korea Working Group held its second session in Mongolia on September 5-6, he said.

"Hopefully, we will be able to have a substantial exchange of opinions on how to normalize relations through settling the 'unhappy past' and resolve existing problems, including the problem of abducted Japanese citizens, on the basis of the Pyongyang Declaration between Japan and North Korea, as quickly as possible," Saito said.

© Interfax

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