Russia needs Caution towards Japan based on the American Question: Analogy of China

Russia needs Caution towards Japan based on the American Question: Analogy of China

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will visit Japan in order to hold a summit with the leader of this nation. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan appears more open towards the Russian Federation but the underlying tone in this nation remains negative. In other words, the Russian Federation is treated differently by Japan in comparison to the compliant approach taken towards America. This is notable because on the whole Japan rubber-stamps the foreign policy of Washington even when detrimental towards the national interests of Japan.

Shigeki Sumi, the Japanese Ambassador to the Ukraine, iterated that the territorial integrity of this nation is supported by Japan. Implying that actions by the Russian Federation in relation to Crimea and the Ukraine, in general, are illegal. Therefore, despite Japan and the Russian Federation focusing on a possible peace treaty, sanctions by Japan on this nation will remain in line with the policies of America and other G-7 nations.

Stephen Blank, The Jamestown Foundation, says On December 15–16, Vladimir Putin will travel to Japan for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. This summit will represent the culminating effort to date of a four-year endeavor to negotiate a Russo-Japanese peace treaty, formally terminating their belligerence during the closing days of World War II and creating a new legal foundation for the territorial status quo in Northeast Asia. But a few days before the visit, to judge from the Russian press, the road to this peace treaty is quite difficult if not obstructed.”

Yet with Japan reiterating an anti-Russian Federation approach towards complex issues in the Crimea and Ukraine, talking about the THAAD system, and flouting that American military bases may be deemed permissible in the future in the vicinity of the Kuril Islands – then it doesn’t bode well that Putin can pander to such a negative approach. Indeed, it is ironic that the same Japan is so compliant on the whole towards the foreign policy objectives of America but remains tenacious towards the Russian Federation – despite Abe being more open than others within the upper echelons of this nation.

Interestingly, Putin illuminated the main differences between border issues between China in the past and issues involving Japan based on the American factor and genuine trust. Putin said, during an interview with the Yomiuri newspaper and Nippon TV, that We conducted talks on border issues with our friends in the People’s Republic of China for 40 years. There were also issues related to specific territories. Now we characterize Russian-Chinese relations as a strategic partnership, even a special strategic partnership. We have never had such a level of trust with China before. China is our major trade and economic partner among foreign states. We implement joint multi-billion projects. We cooperate not only within the UN Security Council, which is logical, as both China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council, but also within such regional organizations as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, etc. Now we are talking about concluding a free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Council, recently established in the post-Soviet space, and China. A similar agreement was concluded a short time ago with Vietnam. Then, we will coordinate, at least we are ready to do this, the Chinese concept of the Silk Road Economic Belt with our newly-created regional organization. So, do you understand how diverse, multi-faceted and deep Russian-Chinese ties have become over the last couple of decades? And we resolved the border issue. This did not cause any major problems, if there were any in China and Russia in this connection, though we both made some compromises. But these were compromises between friendly countries. I think it is almost impossible to achieve such compromise in other ways. I think Mr Abe’s proposal may be the only way to achieving our goal.”

Yet, Putin in relation to Japan pointedly says, “However, Japan imposed economic sanctions against us. Do you see the difference? Why? Due to the events in Ukraine or in Syria? However, Japan and Russian-Japanese relations are hardly related to the events in Syria or in Ukraine. Therefore, Japan has some alliance obligations. We treat them with respect, but we need to understand the degree of Japan’s freedom and what steps it is ready to take. We should look into this, as these are not minor issues. Our foundation for signing a peace agreement will depend on them. This is the difference between current Russian-Japanese and, for instance, Russian-Chinese relations. I do not want to argue; you asked me what the point is. The point is to create an atmosphere of trust.”

It appears that Putin and Abe will bring something to the table in order to keep relations on track in the area of economics and humanitarian issues. Yet, the gambit of Japan in relation to the return of all territory deemed to be under the jurisdiction of this nation is doubtful. This is based on the strings of Washington and the reluctance of Japan to become fully independent. Therefore, until Japan can return to Northeast Asia, instead of focusing on the objectives of America, then it is hard to see how the Russian Federation can fully trust this nation – even if relations have improved under Abe.

China must be smiling because Japan is defeating itself regionally and internationally when it comes to rubber stamping America’s foreign policy objectives. In other words, while Japan dithers about fostering closer economic ties with the Russian Federation, the nation of China continues to move forward with this nation and this also applies to multilateral initiatives.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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