Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Russian opposite number Vladimir Putin discussed energy supply in a telephone conversation on Oct. 14, officials said.
In the first phone call between the two leaders since Noda became prime minister, Putin said Russia could cooperate with Japan by supplying electricity and liquefied natural gas (LNG), for which demand has increased following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
He told Noda, "Trade and investment between the two nations have become more active."
Russia is seeking to increase exports of petroleum and LNG and wants cooperation from Japanese companies to develop resources in the Russian Far East, including Sakhalin.
During the conversation, Noda appeared to make a veiled reference to resolving the running sore of the territorial dispute over the Northern Territories off Hokkaido, which are controlled by Russia but claimed by Japan.
"I want to cooperate with you in resolving major issues," Noda was quoted as saying.
In late September, Putin indicated he would run in the presidential election next spring, a race he is expected to win easily.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who remains in touch with Putin, said the Russian prime minister was shifting his emphasis toward Asia because economic development in western Russia is on track.
"Next year, Russia will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit meeting in Vladivostok, facing the Sea of Japan," Mori said. "(Putin) believes that cooperation from Japan will be indispensable for the economic development of the Russian Far East. He is not expecting cooperation from China, which has inferior technology."
Mori said: "If Russia lays a pipeline to the coast facing the Sea of Japan, a supply route to Japan and other parts of Asia would be created. I told him, 'That is the only way to become an energy power.'"
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