Marubeni's chairman not awarded Russia decoration
Russia recently conferred the order of friendship to Masami Iijima, chairman of Mitsui & Co., and Yoshihiro Shigehisa, honorary advisor of JGC Corporation, for their contributions to economic exchanges between Japan and Russia. But Teruo Asada, chairman of Marubeni Corporation, which prides itself as Japan's trading house that contributes the most to economic cooperation between the two nations, was not selected to receive a decoration.
This omission has raised eyebrows because Marubeni has been more committed than Mitsui to forging cooperative economic ties with Russia. Marubeni has worked in tandem with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on this issue, and Asada reportedly spearheaded a business strategy to jointly develop energy resources with Russian firms, culminating in the signing of memorandums of understanding over liquefied natural gas development in the Arctic region with Novatek and oil development off Sakhalin Island with Rosneft.
Meanwhile, Mitsui has hit a snag in negotiations with RusHydro over a business tie-up, including the purchase of a stake of up to 4.88 percent in the Russian utility company, which could scuttle Mitsui's plan to export electricity generation facilities to Russia. Mitsui, which has reportedly been cool to Russia-related projects promoted by the trade ministry, factored in such a negotiation failure as the company tied the provision of funds to RusHydro to progress in favor of Japan's demands over the return of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido. "Marubeni could get burned if it gets bogged down in business with Russia," a Mitsui executive warned.
This is a translation of an article from the April 2017 issue of Sentaku.