Japan's economy minister Hiroshige Seko will meet with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov on Wednesday in Moscow, where they are expected to hold talks to foster stronger ties in bilateral trade and business.
Seko, who heads the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is expected to discuss ways to materialize the eight-point economic cooperation plan that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin last May in Sochi, Japanese officials said.
The plan includes cooperation in the energy sector and development of the Russian Far East. Japan hopes to use the plan as leverage for pushing forward talks on a decades-old territorial dispute.
When Putin visited Japan last month, his agreement with Abe included 68 private-sector programs between Japan and Russia. Japan also pledged an economic package worth 300 billion yen ($2.58 billion) including in investment and loans.
But the Russian side has said most of the agreements are merely memorandum of understanding and wants the projects to be fleshed out.
Seko's visit, which would also include meetings with other Russian government officials and lawmakers, is also viewed as setting the stage for an envisioned trip to Russia by Abe, political pundits say.
Abe has said he wants to visit Russia in the first half of this year in hopes of making progress on the dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido claimed by Japan.
The row over the islands has prevented the two countries from signing a post-World War II peace treaty.
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