All the attention of the business elite of Russia and Japan was focused on the Rappongi Hills Mori Tower in Tokyo, where the third annual Russian–Japanese Forum on Cooperation in Business, Technology and Culture opened on May 20.
The organizers of the event, Yutaka Asahina, President of one of the leading Japanese newspapers, Mainichi Shimbun, and Pavel Negoitsa, Chief Executive of Rossiyskaya Gazeta, greeted the participants and guests of the discussion platform at the opening ceremony.
“Using the media, we need to exchange views in order to strengthen mutual understanding between Russia and Japan,” Asahina said in his welcoming speech. “The two newspapers representing Russia and Japan have repeatedly exchanged views on this issue. The idea of the forum was born as a result of this discussion.”
Asahina recalled that the first discussion in this format was held in Tokyo in February 2013, ahead of visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Russia. The second was held in Moscow in October 2014, at a time when tensions in Ukraine were flaring up.
“There are a number of problems both at the international level and in bilateral relations, but through dialogue we must find a way out of the crisis,” Asahina said. He admitted that he had been repeatedly told ahead of the second forum about the need to postpone the meeting, but was resolute in his decision-making.
“When it is difficult to negotiate for governments, it is important to engage in dialogue on a private level,” Asahina said. “The ties between Russia and Japan hold the greatest potential, and we can complement each other.”
Rossiyskaya Gazeta Chief Executive Pavel Negoitsa expressed thanks to the forum participants for the undying interest in the Russian-Japanese dialogue.
“I sincerely thank everyone, that despite all the difficulties mentioned by my colleague, Mr. Asahina, you have not lost interest in the Russian-Japanese dialogue,” he said.
“Our forum is called 'Russia-Japan: Common Ground.' Russian-Japanese relations are not limited by a small number of topics at the moment, but represent a close intertwining of the interests in the economy, sports, culture and other areas,” Negoitsa said.
During the plenary session, a speech was delivered by Russian State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin, and messages from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida were read out. The head of the Russian diplomatic mission in Japan, Yevgeny Afanasyev, addressed a welcoming speech to the participants.
The plenary session ended with a lecture by the Russian President's special representative for International and Cultural Cooperation, Mikhail Shvydkoi. He was joined by actress Komaki Kurihara, who is well known in Russia.
The forum featured discussions on four key themes – energy, investment, regional infrastructure and sports. The events were attended by leading Russian and Japanese experts.
The main mission of the forum is to promote direct dialogue between representatives of government, business and civil society in Russia and Japan, to intensify economic cooperation and to exchange knowledge and experience.
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