Japan is hoping the lure of deeper economic ties with Russia will strengthen strategic relations in the face of a rising China, but sceptics question whether the approach will generate a breakthrough in a decades-old territorial dispute.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a business conference in Vladivostok to discuss, among other things, closer economic cooperation in such areas as energy and technology.
The meeting at the two-day forum in the Russian port city, which begins on Friday, will be followed by Putin’s visit to Japan in December, a Russian official has said. It will be Putin’s first visit since Abe took office in December 2012, although Abe has been to Russia several times.
Japan has been eyeing closer ties with Russia to counter China’s growing clout, as well as its interest in Russia’s natural resources. In a sign of the focus on economic ties, Abe has given his trade minister Hiroshige Seko an additional portfolio in charge of economic cooperation with Russia, the main government spokesman in Tokyo said on Thursday.