President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday invited the Japanese to come to work in Siberia and Russia's Far East, as its Asian neighbour struggles with the humanitarian crisis sparked by the earthquake.
Speaking at a meeting dedicated to security issues, the Kremlin chief reiterated Russia's offer of humanitarian assistance and said his country was even ready to employ those Japanese who were willing to relocate for work.
"We have to think about maybe using, if necessary, part of the labour potential of our neighbours, especially in the under-populated regions of Siberia and the Far East," Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev as saying.
Medvedev's appeal came after a top Russian lawmaker urged the Russian government earlier this month to open talks with Tokyo and invite the Japanese to move permanently to Russia.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party and a deputy speaker of the State Duma, the Russian parliament's lower house, said on Sunday that Japan may want to consider re-locating entirely to Russia. "We have plenty of space, where hands and brains, especially Japanese, can be applied," said Zhirinovsky, who enjoys Kremlin support despite his often controversial statements.
Russia and Japan share a history of complicated ties, strained by a row over a disputed island chain that has been unresolved since World War II.
Following the quake and tsunami, Medvedev was quick to offer Japan any necessary assistance and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told his government to supply Japan with more energy.