August 1, 2001｜Russia
Director, Khabarovsk Japan Center
* The following is the personal opinion of Mr. Maeda and does not in any way represent the views of the Japanese government, which runs the Japan Center project.
I would like to explore the problems and issues regarding economic relations between Japan and Russia, looking at the changing situation in Russia not only from an overall perspective, but also concentrating on the country’s Far East region, based on the trends of enterprises in that area.
1. Firstly, in order to expand economic relations with the Russian Far East, we should explore the direction that cooperation between Japan and Russia is taking, understanding correctly the situation in which the Far East currently finds itself with regard to its position in Russia. That is to say, the situation wherein the region cannot break free of its dependence on the central government, but where there is a lack of support from that government. We should then imagine ourselves in the position in which the Russian Far East finds itself.
2. As the political and economic situations in the Far East (including East Siberia) vary greatly depending on the region, it is necessary to avoid lumping those regions all together as a single entity. The peculiar features of each region and their relationships with Japan need to be understood correctly and it is necessary to make an effort to understand what it is that they seek from Japan. As the respective regions have historically had economic links to Japan, I would like to explore to the greatest degree possible the problems facing each region in the future.
The following shows the amount of trade and investment in Khabarovsk and Primorsky Territories:
|Khabarovsk Territory||Primorsky Territory|
|2000 Quantity of Trade:|
|1||China||$554 million||1||China||$377 million|
|2||Japan||$245 million||2||USA||$296 million|
|3||Singapore||$237 million||3||ROK||$278 million|
|4||ROK||$75 million||4||Japan||$227 million|
|2000 Investment from overseas:|
|1||Austria||$8.5 million||1||ROK||$42.4 million|
|2||Singapore||$5.5 million||2||USA||$11.8 million|
|3||USA||$5.4 million||3||Japan||$11.8 million|
|4||UK||$3.2 million||4||China||$1.3 million|
|(The above figures were obtained from the government of Khabarovsk Territory, the newspaper Priamurskie Vedomosti and Japanese enterprises)
Total foreign investment in Primorsky Territory was $75.5 million, as compared with $27.2 million in Khabarovsk Territory.
3. It is necessary to understand the changes in Russia
The Russian economy experienced (1) the collapse and a period of confusion of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, as well as (2) the ruble crisis in 1998, and has undergone great change as a result.
In the Far East also, a great many Japanese companies set up their operations in Russia during the first period, and there were many incidents of joint ventures being created, which then withdrew after being caught up in various problems. There are a lot of reasons for this that are attributable to the Russian side, such as confusion on the Russian side and the fact that the legal system was undeveloped, but there are also successful joint ventures, so it is necessary coolly to analyze what the problems were.
4. Trends in cooperation
(1) From the discussion to the implementation stages:
(2) Freight distribution: Geographically, this is one of the Russian Far East’s most important industries and there are many fields in which Japan can cooperate, such as general distribution centers, support for the revival of the Trans-Siberian Railway, the repair of ports, etc. Cooperation with the ROK and China should also be considered.
(3) Resource development projects: The Russian Far East will be significant in the future as a base for supplying raw materials to Japan.
(4) Tourism: Each of Russia’s regions has a great deal of interest in tourism-related issues, and there are a wide range of fields in which Japan can cooperate. Kamchatka, Primorsky, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, etc, are all separately planning the development of tourism in their respective areas, and Japan may be able to cooperate in combining these into a coherent whole. Furthermore, it is believed that consideration should be given to combining efforts relating to Mongolia, the ROK and China, which are all popular at present. With this aim in mind, consideration should be given to sending specialist promoters to the relevant areas for a lengthy period.
(5) Nurturing human resources: This will be an important area of economic cooperation between Japan and Russia in the future. I would suggest that consideration be given to making cooperation being undertaken separately by Japanese governmental institutions and prefectural governments more effective by unifying cooperative efforts in related areas. Moreover, in the Far East at present, there is a severe lack of machine operators in the forestry, road construction and mining development industries and the training of such people is an urgent necessity. I would therefore suggest that consideration be given to cooperation in training such operators on the ground, alongside the existing training of managers that takes place in the field of economics.
(6) Promote the cooperative structure in each of the Far Eastern territories: Rather than just relying on the federal government, the Far Eastern territories should cooperate in drawing up conditions for the provision of official credit from Japan.
(7) Support regional governments, which need to elicit support from the federal government and seek out projects relating to infrastructure development, such as energy development, the refurbishment of power stations, water supply and sewerage systems, communications facilities, gas pipelines, etc., for which federal government support is essential…Even though this will take time, these should be aimed at and followed through as Japan’s support programs for Russia.
5. The role of the Japan Center
Since 1994, a network of Japan Centers has been established with the aim of supporting the transformation of Russia into a market economy, with centers being opened in Vladivostok and Sakhalin, as well as in Khabarovsk. Japan Centers have undertaken Japanese language education and the nurturing of human resources through a variety of economic seminars. These efforts have been highly praised on the ground and the Russian side also expects great things of them. In the future, it is hoped that the centers will pick up on the needs of Russia, which is undergoing change, and plan the nurturing of the human resources necessary to economic cooperation between Russia and Japan.
This is all that space permits me to write on this occasion, but I would like to do further research on the ground with regard to any areas where my knowledge is insufficient, so I would welcome any suggestions or criticisms.
[Translated by ERINA]