On 26 May 2018, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly conducted a live video call with two crew members of the International Space Station (ISS).
The call was made from St Andrew Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace, Moscow, directly to the ISS, where two Russian cosmonauts and one Japanese astronaut are currently stationed. The two leaders spoke with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, Commander of ISS Expedition 55, and Norishige Kanai, an astronaut of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
Said Putin, “We have been cooperating with Japan in this sphere for over a decade….There have already been seven Japanese researchers in orbit”.
“Japan makes a considerable contribution to the work of the International Space Station. It is not just Japanese researchers who work in space. There is also a large amount of equipment and research conducted by Japanese specialists,” he continued.
Said Abe, “As President Putin said, our countries’ cooperation in space has been ongoing for a long time and will continue. You have two flags behind you – a Russian and a Japanese flag, and we have just had talks with President Putin. We have agreed to make further efforts to develop cooperation between our countries”.
The video call was part of Abe’s two-day visit to Russia, where he attended the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). During the forum, the two leaders participated in several discussions, including bilateral Russian-Japanese talks, where Putin remarked that scientists from the 2 nations are currently collaborating on more than 100 projects, including in space exploration.
Also during SPIEF, Putin appointed former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin the new Roscosmos Director General, replacing Igor Komarov.