Russia is inviting Japan to co-develop fisheries around Pacific islands they are disputing, saying it will tap other foreign partners if Tokyo does not jump in.
The offer is part of a broader plan to develop a vast territory rich in resources but underdeveloped, Reuters reports, citing Yuri Trutnev, the Moscow official responsible for the Russian Far East region.
Also, the Russians are proposing a farming project with China.
Disputes over the islands known as the Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan have strained relations between the two countries since World War II when Soviet forces occupied four of them at the southern end of the chain.
Moscow has angered Tokyo in recent years by having state officials visit the islands, seven time zones from the Russian capital, and stepping up military activities there.
Japan says the islands, less than 20 kilometers from Hokkaido, are part of its territory.
“We want to develop the Kurils at a brisk pace,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“The conditions are ideal there for fishing and fish farming. So we are inviting Japanese companies, and are ready to give them priority in joint ventures …”
“But if they turn it down, we will find others who are willing to work with us. And I know that it can be of great interest to other foreign investors,” he said.
Japan has shown no interest in such offers in the past while eschewing any action that would imply Russian sovereignty.
Trutnev said Russia, the world’s biggest country by territory with one of the world’s longest coastlines, is responsible for only 2 percent of global fish farming and should boost this industry by several times.
Trutnev is overseeing some 80 new projects in the Far East as part of Putin’s plan to develop the territory.
– Contact us at [email protected]