Japan, Russia to ease visa rules, push tourism under cooperation plan

Japan, Russia to ease visa rules, push tourism under cooperation plan

Japan and Russia have agreed to promote tourism and ease visa requirements for each other's citizens under an economic cooperation plan proposed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in May, Japanese officials said Friday. Some other aspects of the eight-point action plan -- such as cooperation on pediatrics, and promotion of trade and investment involving small and medium-sized companies -- will start later this year, according to the officials.

Hiroshige Seko, Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry, will report on the detailed projects to Abe and President Vladimir Putin during their meeting Saturday on the sidelines of a summit of 21 Pacific Rim economies in Lima.

Japan hopes to use the eight-point economic cooperation plan as leverage in pushing forward stalled territorial negotiations between the two countries, especially when Putin visits Japan on Dec. 15 and 16 for talks with Abe. The plan features bilateral economic cooperation in eight areas such as medicine, energy, cutting-edge technologies and industrialization of the Russian Far East.

On top of Saturday's summit, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will visit Russia on Dec. 3 for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to lay the groundwork for the Abe-Putin talks in mid-December. The planned projects include setting up an office of the government-backed Japan National Tourism Organization in Moscow as part of efforts to promote tourism between the countries. On energy, Tokyo and Moscow will promote joint development of oil and gas fields, the introduction of wind power generation, and technical collaboration and human exchanges in the nuclear power field. The two sides will expand the size of youth and college exchanges from 2017. They will also conduct sports exchanges in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The two governments will hold talks in the first half of 2017 on cooperation in training medical professionals, as well as medical information and technology. They will draw up urban development plans for Russia by summer next year to address issues such as traffic congestion and waste disposal, carrying out pilot programs in the southwestern Russia city of Voronezh.

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