(From Reuters)

Russia is inviting foreign partners to help it develop fisheries around Pacific islands where Moscow and Tokyo have rival territorial claims and says it will give Tokyo priority; but if it doesn’t jump at the chance, other investors will.

Yuri Trutnev
Yuri Trutnev

President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Russia’s Far Eastern region Yuri Trutnev said the offer was part of a broader plan to develop a huge territory rich in resources but poorly developed and lacking infrastructure from roads and labor to communications. A farming project with China was also proposed.

Disputes over the islands known as the Kuriles in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan have strained relations between the two countries since World War Two, 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, situated seven time zones from the Russian capital, and stepping up military activities there. Japan says the islands are part of its territory, lying at their southernmost reach less than 20 Km (12 miles) from Hokkaido.

“We want to develop the Kuriles at a brisk pace,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev said 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. Read More

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