In Japan established the post of special representative for relations with Russia. The fact that the foreign Ministry has appointed ex-Ambassador to Moscow Chikahito Harada, speaks about a strong desire of the government Shinzo Abe to repair relations, damaged by the participation in the sanctions, experts say. In Japan remember that Putin urged to seek a way out of long-standing disputes in some kind of “hikiwake” in judo means a draw.
The Cabinet of Japan approved the post of special representative for relations with Russia. Appointed to this position Tikahito Harada, who from 2011 to January of this year was Japan’s Ambassador in Moscow. About the new appointment was announced at a press conference in Tokyo the Minister of foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida.
“Cooperation does not interfere with the disputes on the Kuril Islands”
As explained by the head of the Japanese foreign Ministry’s special representative will be in charge of the whole complex of relations with Moscow, first and foremost, the negotiations on a peace Treaty, reports TASS.
As reported RIA Novosti, Minister Kishida stated that he would personally closely follow the activities Harada, since “relations with Russia, including the problem of Northern territories (in Japan called the Russian Southern Kuril Islands – Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan and Habomai ridge – approx. OPINION) are one of the priority tasks of diplomacy” of Japan. The Minister wished Harada to make every effort for further promotion of relations between the two countries.
“The development of relations with Russia is one of the most important tasks of our diplomacy, – said Kishida. – I hope that the new representative will make every effort to strengthen them”.
64-year-old Tikahito Harada is a graduate of the University of Tokyo, “the forge of cadres” the Japanese elite. In the diplomatic service since 1974, and is not the first time – the diplomatic mission in our country: in 1987-1990 he was the first Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in the USSR, and in 1994-1996 he headed the Department of Russian, Department of Europe Ministry of foreign Affairs. And although our country was not the only focus of the Japanese diplomat (he was Deputy Director General of Department of North America and Director General of the Department of Europe of the foreign Ministry and Ambassador to the Czech Republic), Harada is considered a specialist on Russia.
“Step by step”
The establishment of the post of special representative for Russia – proof that Tokyo plans to restore contacts with Moscow, has been complicated after the beginning of the sanctions campaign the US and its allies against Russia. In particular, now considering the idea of an unofficial visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Russia tentatively in may, ahead of the upcoming in Japan in the same month of the summit “the Big seven”.
Note that on the same day, when the foreign Ministry of Japan appeared the post of special representative for relations with Russia, Prime Minister Abe said Tokyo intends to develop relations with Moscow to jointly confront the challenges facing the international community. The Prime Minister could not help but mention the “problem of Northern territories”, but did it as gently as possible: “To resolve the territorial dispute, a peace Treaty step by step, we will strengthen relationships in a wide range of fields such as economy, energy and culture. We will look for any opportunity to build a dialogue”.
Recall that the last time the Japanese Prime Minister Abe visited Moscow in the spring of 2013. A return visit of Putin in Tokyo scheduled for the fall of 2014, was not held because of the events in Ukraine. In September 2014, Japan joined the sanctions against Russia, which is not the best way affected on and without that not cloudless bilateral relations. It was assumed that the Russian President may visit Japan in 2015, but in the end the two leaders managed to meet only at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey.
“Prime Minister Abe wants to conclude a peace Treaty with Russia, but if you look at the current situation, the anti-sanctions the US and the EU at the ambassadorial level 29 countries extended until July 2016, and America has a negative attitude towards improving relations (Japan) with Russia”, – said in early January, in comments to RIA “Novosti” Japanese expert, Chairman of the economic Committee of North East Asia, an honorary Professor of Economics, far Eastern branch of RAS Susumu Yoshida.
As Russia and Japan shared area (click to enlarge)In early January, Shinzo Abe said that Japan needed top-level talks with Russia to resolve the territorial problem of the Kuril Islands.
January 12, arrived in Moscow the former head of the foreign Ministry of Japan and one of the leaders of the ruling party of this country Masahiko Komura announced that brought Russian President Vladimir Putin a message from the head of the Japanese government. On the same day the President’s press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the parties discussed the possibility of the arrival of Abe in one of the Russian regions. And two days later, the Secretary-General of the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan Acehide Suga commented that the Prime Minister is considering a visit to Russia. “We are looking for any opportunity for meetings at the highest level with Russia,” – he said, however, adding that a concrete agreement has yet been reached.
“The Ukrainian crisis” or “draw”
Japanese scientist, a former head of agrodepartment the Ministry of foreign Affairs of Japan, Professor of Kyoto University, head of the Institute of international relations at the University Kazuhiko Togo noted that Tikahito Harada before becoming the Ambassador, “step by step doing” the Russian direction, was the head of the Department for Russia, then head of the Department, responsible for Russia: This is “clearly an experienced diplomat, which should help,” – said the analyst.
In his opinion, the appointment of former Ambassador speaks about a strong desire of the Japanese government to give impetus to the development of relations between the two countries. Cooperation does not prevent disagreements on the Kuril Islands, here, the “political question”, said the expert.
He recalled that on 2 March 2012, Vladimir Putin as a presidential candidate, said he wants to develop economic cooperation with Japan, and also pointed to the need in the Kuril question of finding “an acceptable compromise or something, hikiwake”. The term in Japanese means “tie” or “there is no Victor – no vanquished” and is used in judo.
“Then the two sides began to seriously work in this direction, but in February 2014 the Ukrainian question,” said the source. Since then, relations between the two countries have become “complex”, the expert said, explaining that cooperation, including on the Kuril issue between Japan and Russia stalled. “The Abe government clearly has a desire to continue the direction that existed before the question arose of Ukraine and Crimea. But we have not yet found the key to break the deadlock, although it is felt that Abe wants it to overcome and find the path to rapid development (relationship approx. OPINION)”, – said a Japanese scientist.
To break the deadlock preventing a few of the reasons: “the US does not want Japan and Russia develop normal relations,” reminded Kazuhiko Togo. Japan belongs to the “seven” and must abide by its decisions, and all countries “the seven” has imposed sanctions against Russia. At the same time, Japan wants development of relations with Russia. These contradictions – the key to the position of Prime Minister Abe.
If Russia changed its position and agreed to continue talks, despite the sanctions, the Japanese government would be enough of a gesture and the negotiation would already be in the active stage. “But Russia is not ready to continue negotiations with a country that carries out sanctions on such vital issues as Ukraine and the Crimea”, – said the expert.
“While this contradiction is not overcome. It is not easy to overcome, but Abe, in spite of all the difficulties, wants to develop relations with Russia. And if both sides will try to find a form, I am sure that we will be able to operate – approx. OPINION)”, – concluded the expert.
“People will be in place”
“Harada – the man is very competent, and well-known, he is an expert on Russia, is well versed in the situation in Russia, knows her political life from the inside out. Here he had established extensive connections in the field of politics, economy, business, culture… He was very active in developing our partnership to the extent allowed, the overall situation in our bilateral relations with Japan,” – said the newspaper VIEW head of the Center for Japanese studies, Institute for Far Eastern studies, the political scientist Valery Kistanov. According to him, “man be in his place”. “The fact that Harada appoint to the post, shows that in Japan, too, recognize his merits in the development of relations with Russia”, – he stressed.
The source noted that the fact of the creation of the post – “an indication that Prime Minister Abe attaches special importance to development of relations with Russia.” Despite the complexity of the current situation in the world: sanctions against Russia and “the stigma faced by Putin and our other political leaders”, said the source.
However, a serious problem in our relations along the Southern Kuril Islands – “complex and depends not only on the Ambassador, but from many other factors,” said the expert. In his opinion, Tikahito Harada, “of course, will promote the Japanese position that Russia should, as the Japanese say, “to return” the Islands, which is a necessary condition of concluding a peace Treaty”.
“The territorial problem should not be an obstacle”
This Kistanov stressed: “the Existence of the territorial problem should not be an obstacle to the development of relations between Russia and Japan in other areas: economy, culture, science, technology, in human exchange. It is the development in other areas will allow you to find a solution for the territorial problem,” – said Kistanov, Recalling that this idea is repeatedly expressed by the Russian side. The Japanese apparently think so too, and this is confirmed by the fact that “our relations in the economic sphere are developing”, said the analyst.
He stressed that he did not agree with experts who claim that the territorial dispute hinder economic cooperation with Japan. “The situation in the Russian economy – that is the main obstacle to the development of our economic relations,” – said the expert. For example, he cited Japan’s relations with China that, “it would seem much more acute than now.” Both countries are also unable to agree on the territorial issue, in addition, the Japanese concerned about the rising military threat of China, anti-Japanese sentiment related to disagreements about Japanese aggression on the mainland and so on. But all this does not prevent their trade and economic cooperation, the countries “have now become the most important partners for each other in the economic sphere”, said the analyst. China ranks first both in the export and import of Japan, and Japan is the main investor in the economy of China. “This proves that the territorial problem is not a barrier to successful economic relations between the two countries, if there are objective economic conditions”, – concluded the expert.Related posts: