The main objective for the Shinzo Abe administration’s active engagement in supporting the involvement of Japanese companies in the development of the Russian Far East is to create favourable environment for resolution of the territorial issue and conclusion of a peace treaty with Russia. Japan–Russia cooperation in the Russian Far East is part of Abe’s 8-point cooperation plan with Moscow. In regard to economic cooperation, there are two categories to be discussed separately. One is the traditional area of cooperation that is energy such as oil and gas, initiated mainly by big companies. The other is shaped by new areas of businesses initiated mainly by small and medium-sized companies.
On energy cooperation, there were high expectations after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 that Japan–Russia cooperation could largely expand due to the rapid increase of Japan’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) import. Unfortunately, the results fell short of expectations due to a couple of reasons. Yet, in the coming decade there will be another chance of expanding cooperation in this area. Firstly, we will see the start of a new cycle of signing long-term LNG contracts by Japanese utilities companies in 2023 at the earliest. Secondly, it is highly likely that the overall Asia-Pacifi c region (APR), including China and ASEAN countries, will dramatically increase the volume of LNG import. Therefore, Japan–Russia energy cooperation potentially could expand not only in Japanese market but also in the whole APR in the near future.