Siberian oil may prove vital for East Asia

Jul 12, 2006 02:00 AM

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi spoke about Japanese approaches to the settlement of main problems in Russian-Japanese relation, the North Korean nuclear issue and the United Nations reform.
The fact that Tokyo and Moscow have never signed a peace treaty to put a formal end to their confrontation during World War II prevents Japan and Russia from building mutual confidence, Koizumi argued.

In the past few years, trade and economic relations between Japan and Russia have been showing sustained development, the prime minister said. But they are far below the level they have the potential to achieve, he said.
The main reasons are that there is no peace treaty between our countries and that “no relationship marked by sincerity and confidence has been built between them,” the premier said. “I am absolutely confident of the need to achieve a peace treaty by solving the territorial problem and to completely normalize bilateral relations,” he said.

He was referring to a Japanese-Russian dispute over four South Kuril Islands that the Soviet Union annexed from Japan during World War II and that are part of Russia today. Japan wants the islands back.
Both countries have repeatedly reiterated their allegiance to a policy of seeking a peace treaty “by solving the problem of sovereignty over the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai,” Koizumi said. He said he would take up this problem in earnest at a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking of trade and economic cooperation and energy stability, Koizumi said that oil from Siberia could serve to stabilize the Asia and Pacific energy market. He said that the project of building the East Siberia–Pacific Ocean oil pipeline meets the interests of Japan, as well as Russia.
“I believe that if Siberian oil is delivered to Asia and Pacific countries along the pipeline, it will serve to stabilize the energy market in the region as a whole,” he said.

The prime minister said that Japan was trying to deepen energy cooperation with Russia. “This is one of the sectors having a mutually-beneficial and strategic significance for both countries,” he said.
In this context, Koizumi welcomed the Sakhalin-I and Sakhalin-II projects that are being implemented with the involvement of Japanese companies.
“I hope that the projects will be successfully carried out through interaction of the two countries,” he said.

Speaking of other aspects of Japanese-Russian trade and economic cooperation, Koizumi said that last year trade turnover between Japan and Russia for the first time exceeded the $ 10 bn mark.
“The sum is steadily growing, which reflects the interest of companies of the two countries. Japanese companies in different sectors are making investments in Russia,” he said. The prime minister hoped that Russia’s efforts to improve the investment climate “will serve the further growth of bilateral trade and investments of Japanese companies in Russia.”

Speaking about the North Korean issue, Koizumi expressed hope that North Korea will return to the framework of the six-nation (Japan, Russia, China, the United States, North and South Koreas) talks. Moreover, he stated his intention to highlight the importance of a coordinated international reaction to North Korean ballistic missiles launches at the G8 summit in St Petersburg.
“I would like to stress once again that North Korea’s immediate return to the framework of the six-sided talks and the swiftest fulfilment of a joint statement adopted at the fourth round of talks will contribute to peace and stability in East Asia, as well as agree with North Korean interests,” the Japanese prime minister said.

“Six-sided talks are the best format for international consultations on the search for a specific solution to the North Korean nuclear issue, he said, adding that North Korea refuses to participate in the meetings, hiding behind US sanctions, which have nothing to do with six-nation negotiations,” Koizumi said.
“Moreover, Japan willmake efforts to settle the North Korean issue in cooperation with all parties concerned, including Russia, in the future,” he said, adding that he pined hope on Russia’s active role at the talks. The fact that North Korea, despite regular warnings by Japan and other parties concerned, launched its missiles, violated the statement adopted at the six-nation talks and causing regret.

Furthermore, the prime minister spoke for international interaction on resolving the issue of Pyongyang’s abductions of foreign civilians. Japan will make efforts to achieve the swiftest possible reform of the United Nations' Security Council, Koizumi said.
The country will continue its efforts aimed at the swiftest possible reform of the Security Council, taking into consideration the possibility to implement a solution that would be supported by the majority of countries, he said.

The prime minister stressed that by contributing in a number of areas through the UN, Tokyo had created the foundation that allows Japan to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
And Russia has supported Japan’s initiative to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Koizumi said, adding that the necessity to reform the Security Council stems from the fact that the body should be reformed in accordance with the realities in the world.

Source: Interfax
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