Russian Federation should be a Pivotal Nation for Japan: Energy, Geopolitics and US Failure

Russian Federation should be a Pivotal Nation for Japan: Energy, Geopolitics and US Failure

Galina Zobova, Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The Russian Federation should become a pivotal nation for Japan based on geopolitical and energy issues. Indeed, given Japan’s uneasy relationship with China, North Korea and South Korea, then a powerful relationship with the Russian Federation makes sense. After all, political elites in Moscow can pave the way for closer regional ties that benefit all interested parties based on being an ‘honest broker.’ At the same time, energy issues involving the Russian Federation and regional allies in Central Asia would dramatically improve Japan’s energy problems. Therefore, Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe must push aside territorial issues with the Russian Federation in order to start a bright new future that benefits both nations.

President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation is intent on developing a multipolar world therefore this nation is increasingly playing a major role in many multinational institutions. At the same time, Putin understands the need to foster greater ties with pivotal regional powers, for example Brazil, China, Egypt and India. Also, recent events in Syria highlight an expanding military role outside of the Russian Federation’s natural backyard. However, unlike America’s international involvement, the Russian Federation in Syria is acting within international law because Syria invited this nation to help in the fight against international terrorism.

In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated: “In Central Asia and the vast lands of Eurasia it is abundantly clear that the Russian Federation remains pivotal to all surrounding nations. Indeed, in the realm of economics and military prowess it is Moscow that is the binding force. Similarly, throughout the Caucasus region all independent nations keep a watchful eye on the geopolitical and energy politics of the Russian Federation. Likewise, the military, political and energy angle in Northeast Asia means that China, North Korea and South Korea all seek cordial relations with the Russian Federation. Therefore, Japan can’t afford to be isolated regionally because only Taiwan is a constant friend of the land of the rising sun.”

The crisis in Crimea (Russian Federation) and southeastern Ukraine isn’t of any major geopolitical significance to Japan. Other nations like America, France, Germany and the United Kingdom may think otherwise. This is based on their collective containment policies vis-à-vis NATO and European Union expansion that appears to be aimed at the Russian Federation. However, for Japan to agree with G-7 nations is shortsighted, even if Tokyo is more muted on the subject of the Ukraine crisis.

Despite Japan’s response being relatively ‘quietist’ in comparison with America it is still clear that elites in Tokyo displeased the Russian Federation over the stance taken over the Ukraine crisis. Once more, therefore, Japan shot itself in the foot in order to placate America. This became visibly apparent when the Russian Federation enacted military drills in a disputed region between both nations.

Owen Lindsay, East Asia Forum, reports: The military exercises came as an apparent reprisal for Japan’s support for anti-Russia sanctions, which had been enacted in response to Russia’s role in the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine. In an attempt to avoid aggravating the territorial dispute, Japanese sanctions have been mild when compared to other G7 countries. Tokyo’s targeting of 40 individuals and restriction of imports from Crimea fall short of American and European measures aimed at hobbling Russia’s banking, energy and military industries. Still, Japan’s more measured sanctions appear to have angered the Russian leadership. In addition to the military drills, Russia has responded with its own sanctions, which restrict entry of specific Japanese individuals to Russia.”

Turning back to regional dynamics then only the Russian Federation can become an honest broker in relation to China, Japan, North Korea and South Korea. This is based on cordial relations between the Russian Federation and all regional nations in Northeast Asia. Similarly, with Japan opening up more to India and Vietnam then once more it is clear that the Russian Federation is a pivotal nation that can’t be sidelined. After all, both these nations have favorable relations with the Russian Federation and both gain from military factors. At the same time, Central Asian nations are increasingly becoming worried by events in Afghanistan therefore the Russian Federation is a safety net for all these nations and the same applies to Mongolia in relation to China.

Indeed, Japan should note that Japanese nationals are dying based on NATO and Gulf intrigues that turn on the terrorist and sectarian tap when it suits. This applies to recent deaths of Japanese nationals in Algeria and Syria. In the case of Japanese nationals dying in Algeria then clearly this was based on terrorists utilizing Libya after NATO and Gulf powers created a failed state. Similarly, Japanese nationals killed in Syria have all died after entering this nation through NATO Turkey. In other words, if Japan desires to work in the realm of international law and fighting international terrorism then a more questioning policy towards so-called friends is needed.

Also, Japan needs to question the military prowess of America and the tenaciousness of this nation. After all, events in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria are extremely questionable – just like Vietnam before. Not surprisingly, the Russian Federation is stepping into Syria because elites in Moscow are frustrated by America – and allies of this nation – that just ravage nations and leave behind failed states that are blighted by terrorism.

Therefore, Japan should stand up and be counted within the G-7 and show that elites in Tokyo understand the full complexity of the crisis in the Ukraine. In other words, Japan should open the doors to greater economic and energy deals with the Russian Federation by filling the vacuum. If not, then only China will gain from strengthening political, economic and military ties with the Russian Federation. This reality isn’t in the interest of Japan and clearly Ukraine is of minor importance when compared with the power and influence of the Russian Federation.

Modern Tokyo Times stated in a past article that “Energy politics is essential for all major powers but currently Japan isn’t helping itself. After all, the vast energy resources of the Russian Federation are abundantly clear. At the same time, the power mechanisms of Moscow are heavily felt throughout Central Asia and the Caucasus region. Therefore, multiple energy networks involve the Russian Federation with various other nations throughout the geopolitical space of this nation. This reality could boost Northern Japan and enable Tokyo to diversify its energy policy. Indeed, the Russian Far East and Northern Japan have much to gain from greater relations between both nations.”

Of course, America will remain to be a pivotal nation for Japan and likewise elites in Washington will continue to gain from the geopolitical and economic reality of Japan. Despite this, Japan must open a new chapter whereby this nation reaches out to nations like China and the Russian Federation to a much greater degree. Therefore, it is hoped that Japan will formulate a new foreign policy aimed at focusing much more on the Russian Federation in order to protect the natural self-interests of Japan.

Simply put, the Russian Federation can open up a new chapter for Japan in the area of geopolitics, energy dynamics and within international institutions. Conversely, territorial issues between both nations will be debated from a more diplomatic stance. Likewise the Russian Federation will gain enormously from the economic and technological power of Japan if Tokyo elites open up to a more multipolar world. Therefore, Japan needs to focus on the geopolitical reality of the Russian Federation and the shifting sands internationally. East Asia Forum


Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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