Japan offers to expand Russian airport in deal to recover Kuril islands

Japan is offering to expand an airport in Russia’s Far East to help sweeten a deal to recover islands taken by the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

A Japanese public-private fund would build and manage a new terminal at the airport of Khabarovsk, a city of approximately 577,000 people 500 miles north of Vladivostok.

It would be just part of a spending spree, reported to be worth up to $20bn, offered by Japan for infrastructure development in Russia’s Far East in exchange for islands it claims in the Kuril chain.

The airport and other development assistance will be offered to Russia when Japan’s economy, trade and industry minister, Hiroshige Seko, visits Moscow this week, Nikkei Asian Review reports.

Seko will also discuss energy projects and ports in meetings with his Russian counterpart.

Japan will tempt Russia with assistance in improving living conditions in cities and promoting industries to turn the region into an export hub.

According to Nikkei, Japanese trading house Sojitz and other private firms are considering investing in Khabarovsk airport, which handled 1.8 million passengers in 2015.

If private Japanese firms reach an agreement on the airport with the Russian side, a public-private fund, known as the Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Corp. for Transport & Urban Development, would invest as well.

As for port upgrades, Japan would expand the ports of Vanino and Vostochnyy to turn them into bases for exporting Russian coal to Asia amid declining demand in Europe, Nikkei reports.

Japan is also seeking ways to help Japanese small businesses expand into Russia.

Tokyo hopes to secure an agreement with Russia on specific projects before a December summit in Japan between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Japan hopes to regain control of two islets in the Kuril chain, Shikotan and Habomai, and then extend negotiations to the larger landmasses of Iturup and Kunashir, which were annexed by the Soviet Union in 1945.

Image: The airport at Khabarovsk serves the city of approximately 577,000 people 500 miles north of Vladivostok (Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. May they work out an equitable agreement advantageous to them both and to their populace and put the past back into the past where it truly belongs!

  2. Joint economic cooperation with Russia in charge is the only possible way for Japan to get something from the islands. Russia will never return them and Japan must take it as is. After Japan capitulated and Russians took the Kuril Islands the dispute was over and Japan knows it. So I just don’t understand their attempts to get the islands back. Sometimes you lose something and you just can’t recover it.

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