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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Thirteenth meeting with Putin will be successful for Shinzo Abe

Japanese Prime Minister arrives in Russia on an unofficial visit. Shinzo Abe was in Russia two years – with the Sochi Olympics. And his current meeting with Vladimir Putin will be held in the southern capital of Russia. The main result of their conversations may be agreement about the precise time of the official visit of Putin to Japan – the trip, which the Japanese attach great importance, but which, under US pressure, delaying for the third year.

Shinzo Abe comes not only as Prime Minister of Japan, but also as the host of the upcoming three weeks in his country of the summit “the big seven” – Japanese, like the Europeans, still believe that the “big eight” is not buried completely, and with time Russia can return to it.

“The issue of Putin’s visit to Japan for a long time already is not Russian, and Japanese challenge”

Although the Kremlin almost openly say that the format of the eight died once and for all. After Crimea, the United States decided to punish Russia with the exception of a temporary “g”, and to imagine our return to this method of interaction with the West even after the end of the “war of sanctions” is impossible. There are double sided formats, is the “big twenty”, becoming the main meeting of world leaders – and Russia itself actively develops cooperation in the BRICS format, the “big five” non-Western countries. Not now, not after a few years Moscow has no need for China or India could think about what format “the eights” Russia is playing Western games.

While it is clear that Abe turned Sochi into the program of his visit to the capitals of the participating countries of the “sevens”, not because he wants to talk with Putin about the relations of the Atlantic world and Russia – Japan has its own very specific interest. Abe wants to develop Sino-Russian relations, wants, if not to conclude a peace Treaty, then at least take a step toward him.

It is no coincidence he was the only leader from the “seven” who was personally present at the opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Sochi – a few weeks before the Crimea and the beginning of the open phase of the conflict between Russia and the West. And now, two years later, he again comes to Russia – trying to take advantage of the fact that Washington was forced to interact with Moscow on the Syrian issue, and therefore can no longer as before to demand from Tokyo compliance policy of blockade of Russia.”

In fact, Japan is feeling very uncomfortable because of the conflict the US and Russia – as a customer of Washington Tokyo is actually limited in its foreign policy sovereignty. Abe, who became Prime Minister a second time in 2012, from the outset intended to strengthen Russian-Japanese relations – which in any degree do not meet the interests of both powers. And the first two years he did a lot for this – for 2014 was even scheduled the visit of Putin to Tokyo.

The symbolic significance of Putin’s trip to Japan would be very great – on an official visit, the President visited the country only once, in 2005. After the Crimea, but Washington was tough to put pressure on Tokyo, like the rest of the country, with the aim to achieve “voluntary” limitations of high-level contacts with Moscow. Putin should not visit Western countries to visit – he is an outcast. It is clear that apart from the Anglo-Saxon countries, i.e. the UK, Canada and Australia, all European countries in one form or another has maintained a continuous dialogue with the Russian President.

German Ministers increasingly find themselves guests in the Kremlin, French President made a stop in Moscow for meeting with Putin at the airport, the Italian Prime Minister himself came to Russia and the Russian President was received as a guest conveniently tucked exhibitions. Only Japan and all these two years was tormented with how she would deal with the invitation to Putin to abandon him would be quite ugly, and what the relationship between the two leaders after this we could talk?

So I postponed the visit – the first from 2014 to 2015, then for 2016. The reason almost no secret – the pressure of the United States was not even behind the scenes, and quite a public character. Even Obama openly reminded the Japanese about the need to keep order. Moscow was sympathetic to the suffering of Japanese – what can we do, everything is clear, people are somehow forced. In General, the position of Tokyo relative to the relations with Russia completely fits into the scheme “and want, and prickly, and my mother will not allow” (or rather uncle Sam, if you remember the classic symbols of the United States).

Meanwhile, Putin and Abe for these two years three met on the sidelines of various international summits and footage from their last year’s meeting in new York, when Japanese Prime Minister literally ran into the meeting room where he waited for Putin, show the importance which the Japanese attach to relations between the two leaders.

This meeting will be for the two leaders already ninth from 2012 (when Abe again headed the government), given their talks of the times of the first Prime Minister, Abe – 13th. On the eve of the Japanese Prime Minister specifically emphasized the importance that he attaches to the upcoming negotiations.

At a press conference on may 1, Abe said that he will propose to President Putin to strengthen bilateral relations – however, his representatives have confirmed information that the Prime Minister considers it necessary to go to the rapprochement with Russia, even if there is no progress on the problem of “Northern territories”. Tokyo wants to prepare conditions for the solution of the “territorial problem” with the development of relations in the sphere of economy and security, and Japan is eager not to dwell on the question of “Northern territories”.

At the same time publicly Abe, of course, continues to focus on his desire to solve the problem of territories and places her discussion in the first place. As he stated at the same press conference, “the peace Treaty will not be signed as long as both leaders will not thoroughly discuss this issue. The fact that 70 years after the end of world war II not signed a peace Treaty, not normal”.

Not to say that Tokyo realized the futility of territorial claims to Russia – but the good news is that now there are ready to engage in the development of relations between the two countries. As they say sources in Tokyo, “Japan intends to first strengthen Russian-Japanese relations in General, and then to settle the territorial question a political decision of the heads of both States, enjoys strong support among the population” – that is, Abe puts on the rapprochement between the two States, during which you will negotiate settlement of the dispute.

But in order to strengthen ties (and the economic potential of bilateral relations is huge) need political trust of the leaders. Abe himself feels uncomfortable due to the fact that time can not accept Putin in Japan – what areas can speak Russian President with a man who being the head of a state, cannot even determine whom and when to accept at a party?

Very accurately and correctly as possible recently outlined the situation with Putin’s visit, Sergei Lavrov. After a trip to Tokyo, the foreign Affairs Minister said:

“Putin’s visit to Japan does not interfere with anything. For it to be held, you need to a long time ago made the invitation took the form of a specific date. It’s not Russia has thrust on a visit to Japan, is Japan invited us to visit the country for a visit. Later, several times Prime Minister Abe told President Putin that he is thinking about the dates. We soothed our Japanese partners, so they didn’t worry that we do not need every time to say that they continue to think. When “ripe” for a specific time, let say, we will be considering. It all depends on when our Japanese colleagues will feel for themselves that it is possible and comfortable to make a decision about what terms to propose to President Putin”

Therefore, the issue of Putin’s visit to Japan for a long time already is not Russian, and Japanese problem. Even more precisely, the problem of Abe. And during the talks in Sochi, he will attempt to find a solution.

As wrote on Thursday the newspaper “Sankei”, Abe said he would be pleased with the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan, intends to discuss suitable for the Russian leader’s visit time and plans to invite him to their small home in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Meeting in the province, on this plan, should take place in the “free relaxed atmosphere that will allow, slowly, in detail to discuss the territorial issue between the two countries”, says Japanese newspaper.

It is difficult to say, does this idea attempt to translate the question of the official visit to an informal setting – that is, to make Tokyo easier to explain to Washington why call Putin.” It is unlikely that Putin will agree on an unofficial visit to Japan – that is, the invitation Abe, of course he will, but to refuse official status of the visit, of course, will not.

This is a demonstration of the relationship not him personally – Putin is just having fun in General would avoid all ceremonies – and to the country. So the Japanese have yet to muster the courage to defend their right to be masters in their own land. Because otherwise, Japanese leaders have to continue to hear from their Russian colleagues hurtful for the ego, but honest words like those that recently publicly said Sergei Lavrov:

“We are well aware that, unfortunately, Japan is not the only country that is not completely independent in its foreign policy actions. Would like to see such a major power like Japan, has received more such independence”

And, of course, Shinzo Abe can “cheat” and wait for the end of this year – and to invite Putin to come in December, when the U.S. will have a new, elected, but not yet coming into office, President. Having much different from the current administration’s approach to U.S.-Russian and U.S.-Japanese relations.

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