Japan Should Focus on Russia and not US Whims about Ukraine
Galina Zobova, Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Russian Federation is of major strategic significance for Japan and while Tokyo and Washington relations are extremely strong, this doesn’t mean that Japan shouldn’t focus on special relations with Moscow. In terms of natural resources, the complex geopolitics of Northeast Asia, inward flow of investments both ways to boost the Hokkaido region and the Russian Far East – and other important factors – then it is time for Japan to focus on the Russian Federation to a much more important extent. Indeed, with Japan having many territorial issues with neighboring nations, including the Russian Federation, then it is imperative for political elites in Tokyo to reach out to Moscow.
Sadly, while the government of Prime Minister Abe is rather mooted towards the current crisis in the Ukraine, it is still clear that Washington is pulling the strings. Of course, Japan doesn’t need ill intentions towards either the Russian Federation or the Ukraine therefore a more neutral stance is needed. After all, the crisis in Crimea and the current situation in Southeastern Ukraine began after a violent coup took place in Kiev. In other words, the actions of America and the European Union (EU) enticed nationalist forces, alongside the involvement of covert operatives, to whip up a storm after the leader of the Ukraine decided on the economic package of the Russian Federation.
Once political violence was used in Kiev to topple the government, including the usage of snipers, then this was followed by more anti-Russian threats. Not surprisingly, given the history of Crimea, then the Russian majority decided on a referendum in order to abide by the will of the people. The result of this was that Crimea via the ballot box, unlike the coup in Kiev that violated all democratic procedures, decided on “returning home” to the Russian Federation. Of course, the masses in Crimea decided on this path because of historical facts and because of the genuine fears of being oppressed by the new unelected nationalist elites in Kiev.
Japan must acknowledge the above and step back from joining the G-7 anti-Russian Federation rubber stamp. After all, there is nothing democratic about the new Kiev elites that are imposing their whims on society despite being unelected. Also, while Ukraine is bankrupt the new power brokers in Kiev are using a military threat towards their own citizens. Therefore, it would appear that the hand of NATO and America are behind this reality given the weakness of Kiev. However, what would Japan do if many Japanese citizens felt threatened by unelected elites threatening anti-Japanese policies and turning to outside agencies? This reality is what the Russian Federation faces because unelected elites in Kiev are using military threats against citizens in Southeastern Ukraine. Indeed, several individuals have been killed by military force and clearly throughout the current crisis it is the Russian Federation that seeks to calm the situation.
It must be remembered that the new unelected elites in Kiev that utilized violence in order to obtain power, suddenly decided on making statements way outside of their remit. This applies to the desire to turn Ukraine over to NATO (despite many being opposed to this), making a new economic agreement based on loans from the EU (why didn’t the EU provide a proper deal prior to the crisis?), requesting United Nation troops, turning to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), threatening to send past leaders to International Courts, and turning the Ukraine over to the whims of America. In other words, unelected Ukrainian nationalists in Kiev decided on alienating ethnic Russians and Ukrainians opposed to their “enslavement policies.” Not surprisingly, this led to enormous convulsions and the Russian Federation had no option but to remain firm about the Crimea and to stand up for citizens politically in the Ukraine who genuinely fear oppression and being alienated from the political system.
Indeed, it is ironic that the new elites in Kiev appear to be set on being dictated to by the EU, IMF, NATO, America, International Courts and other outside entities. It appears that elites in Kiev are going to dig their own downfall because once tough IMF policies are introduced, and other issues related to outside entities, then clearly this will impact negatively on many citizens in the Ukraine. After all, look at the current crisis in Greece and other EU nations that are blighted by economic diktats, high unemployment, growing poverty and the growing sense that their sovereignty is all but lost. Therefore, the Ukraine needs good relations with the Russian Federation based on geopolitics, natural trade, energy issues, natural ties and because this nation, more than any, helped to stabilize the Ukraine in the past since the demise of the Soviet Union.
Despite this, the new elites in Kiev have been intent on alienating ethnic Russians, making belligerent statements towards the Russian Federation based on enormous rhetoric and threatening to create mayhem regionally by standing behind NATO and American propaganda. Japan therefore must not be silenced by Washington and forced to rubber stamp anti-Russian objectives. Instead Abe should focus on favorable relations with the Russian Federation and focus on genuine geopolitical concerns that favor Japanese citizens.
The Russian Federation is a binding force in uniting Eurasia and Central Asia therefore political elites in Tokyo need to focus on geopolitics and national interests. At the same time, with China and Japan relations being frosty to say the least it is clear that Moscow desires to be an honest broker. Likewise, the Korean Peninsula is very complex but once more the Russian Federation is viewed positively because of being diplomatic towards all regional powers. Similarly, Northern Japan needs greater economic investment and the natural linkages between the Russian Far East and Northern Japan is clear for all to see. Therefore, the above realities and the significance of energy issues and other natural resources that Japan needs must be weighed up heavily by political elites in Tokyo.
Japan of course must foster good relations with future democratic leaders of the Ukraine. Also, it is understandable why Japan is providing a current economic helping hand to the Ukraine. After all, Japan isn’t endorsing the new political elites in Kiev but is trying to help a nation that is in dire straits economically. However, Japan must refrain from the G-7 anti-Russian Federation rubber stamp because the current crisis in the Ukraine is extremely complex. Also, the destabilization of this nation began once elites in Kiev took power based on intimidation and violence. This reality means that Japan must step back and maintain channels to the Russian Federation based on sincerity, while focusing on national self-interests and geopolitics.
Fumio Kishida, the Foreign Minister of Japan, commented in the past that “… Cooperation between Japan and Russia, as key players in the Pacific Ocean region, is important for fortifying peace and stability in the region.”
Simply put, the Russian Federation is of major strategic significance to Japan and the same applies to energy related issues and other important areas. Therefore, Japan mustn’t burn its bridges based on the whims of America.