Implications of a Special Economic Zone declared by Russia in an area disputed by Japan

Implications of a Special Economic Zone declared by Russia in an area disputed by Japan

Chika Mori and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of the Russian Federation signed an important economic document earlier this year in an area that Japan disputes. Of course, for the Russian Federation, the document that designates a special economic zone that covers the Kuril Islands (Japan title is the Northern Territories) is an internal declaration.

Equally important, from the point of view of the Russian Federation, this is a continuation of recent comments made by President Vladimir Putin. This applies to Putin who fears the expansion of America’s anti-missile defense systems in Alaska and South Korea respectively.

Several months ago Reuters reported, Putin said the Kurile Islands, a chain of islands in the Far East where Moscow and Tokyo have rival territorial claims, were “quite a convenient place” to deploy Russian military hardware to respond to such threats.”

In other words, the special economic zone declared by Medvedev is further cementing the geopolitical concerns of this nation. Hence, issues related to strengthening the hand of the Russian Federation throughout the Kuriles is aimed at economic, geopolitical, military, and other important areas.

Medvedev is especially focused on developing the infrastructure, fishery sector, and boosting construction companies. He perceives that these areas will grow based on tax breaks and other incentives related to the special economic zone.

In truth, recent comments and actions by Putin and Medvedev respectively should be noticed fully by political elites in Japan. Thereby, waking Japan up from its unrealistic policy towards the disputed region according to the past and current leaders of this nation. After all, according to the Russian Federation, the dispute doesn’t exist because the region is firmly under its control.  

Of course, the Russian Federation is interested in joint economic ventures between both nations throughout the region and cultural initiatives. Yet, this isn’t based on weakness but from the standpoint of strengthening friendship and trust between the Russian Federation and Japan. If this develops, then political elites in Moscow will be more open to listening to political elites in Tokyo and trying to solve the issue based on trust and goodwill. After all, political elites in Moscow did listen to China’s demands over a disputed area based on both nations having genuine bonds of friendship.

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