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Thursday, March 15, 2018

A clue to a new approach of Japan to the Islands to look for in geopolitics

The results of the talks between Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe discussed both the Japanese and Russian press. Optimistic comments give rise to a new round of divination in the midst of the island. But the most interesting result is the attempt by Tokyo to use Russian leverage to improve their geopolitical position.

The meeting of Putin and Abe really promoted the Russian-Japanese relations forward – at least after completing that two-year pause, which Tokyo was forced to hold under pressure from Washington.

“A new approach” Abe is to separate issues of bilateral relations from”territorial”

No, Japan does not cancel its sanctions against Russia, although they are much softer than the Atlantic. Just, finally convinced that Western solidarity does not interfere with the rest of its partners in the “seven” they need to resolve issues with Russia, begins to do the same. And what is the question for Japan home on the Russian direction? The Kuril Islands, a peace Treaty?

No, the home for Japan is the configuration of relations between its most important neighbours – the US, China and Russia. And her own relationship with them. Exactly changes in this triangle and pushing Tokyo to intensify on the Russian front. And that a convergence initiative belongs to Japan, no doubt even the most anti-Russian analysts. What happened in Sochi?

Putin and Abe discussed two main themes – economic cooperation and progress towards the conclusion of a peace Treaty, that is, the question of territorial claims of Japan to Russia. It should be called the question of “Northern territories”. Four Islands, ceded to Russia by the results of the Second world war, are an integral part of our territory, whatever may be said on this subject in Tokyo.

At the same time Moscow in 1956, and in the post-Soviet period said that in case of signing a peace Treaty can go to transfer to Japan two of four Islands – but only as a gesture of goodwill. It was recorded in the Moscow Declaration of 1956, and any negotiations on a peace Treaty agreement are aware of this 60 years ago. But take into account, because no legal obligations Russia itself did not take. For Japan’s talking about the two Islands is unacceptable, Tokyo insists all four, making and so unpromising negotiations altogether meaningless. But what then is the breakthrough?As Russia and Japan shared area (click to enlarge)

That the Japanese, in fact, agreed to postpone the issue of the Islands for later, that is, to separate the economic and political relations from “territorial dispute”. Before the trip, Abe was known that he had decided to go on the development of Sino-Russian relations in the expectation that their improvement will contribute to achieving the consent of the territorial issue. The Japanese Prime Minister after the meeting said that Moscow offered a new approach to solving the problem and with Putin came to an agreement on this issue. And the Secretary General of the Japanese Cabinet Yoshihide Suga stated that in order “to achieve a breakthrough on pursued thus far in the negotiations, this time both sides to find a mutually acceptable solution agreed to continue dialogue on the basis of a new approach, not old ideas.”

Word on the “new approach” became the main news of the meeting in Sochi – and all began to wonder what could be meant? Moreover, it was announced that in June will host the next round of consultations on the peace Treaty at the level of Deputy foreign Ministers.

Give two Islands? Will offer joint management? Will return all four? Not only in Russia but also in Japan understand that Putin is not going to throw Russian territories, then there is hope even for the transfer of the two Islands are more than hypothetical in nature. But the “new approach” Abe is not in some clever (and non-existent) plan for the partition of the Islands, and in the Department of problems of bilateral relations from territorial.

The proposed terms of economic cooperation with Russia of the eight points will advance in parallel with negotiations on a peace Treaty, and independently of them – that’s the main “trick” of Tokyo. That is, making sure in the early 90s (when the Kremlin forces were willing to give the island) that just “buy” the territory of Russia will not work in Tokyo, we decided to try to be for Moscow an important partner (so called, by the way, Japan Putin in the beginning of the meeting with Abe). The potential for economic cooperation is huge – and the Japanese don’t want to wait for the sea Islands.

That’s how the Japanese press suggested Abe sets out a cooperation plan to develop Russia’s Far East:

“1. The increase in healthy life expectancy due to the construction of advanced hospitals;

2. Urban development: construction of houses in the North, systems of water supply and Sewerage, the transport network;

3. Strengthening cooperation in the sphere of small and average business;

4. Energy cooperation;

5. Diversification of industry and increase productivity;

6. The construction of airports and seaports in the far East; land reclamation;

7. Cooperation in the field of advanced technologies: nuclear energy and information technology;

8. The staff exchange to enhance mutual understanding”.

In this case, “Mainichi Shimbun,” notes that “economic cooperation with Russia is for Japan big risk:

“It is likely that it will help to ensure that Russia will begin to treat the territorial issue with great enthusiasm, but many fear that the issue of “Northern territories” can fall by the wayside, if priority is given only to economic cooperation. Since the economic cooperation will mainly focus on private companies, it is unknown whether it will develop as the government wants”.

The Japanese expect that they need Russia, because “the Kremlin needs the economy out of crisis.” In addition, the “Mainichi” notes that “one of the main objectives of the Kremlin is the retarded development of the far Eastern region” and “Russia hopes that Japan will help it to reduce its dependence on China.”

The thesis about Russia’s desire to reduce its dependence on China by the Japanese is drawn directly from calculations of the Atlanticists. In reality, Moscow has no dependence on Beijing, and have absolutely a natural desire to attract Chinese and Japanese investment. The partnership of Russia and China is strategic and has a global dimension, and relations with Japan even in an ideal case, will be limited to the Pacific.

And most importantly – to invest in Russia is very profitable for Japan, so what is considered a possible Japanese investments “pay for the island” is just silly.

And partly due to the reluctance of Moscow to create a similar impression in Tokyo of the Russian-Japanese trading-economic relations are at a low level. Want to trade and invest? Please, but no reference to the Islands. Now the Japanese finally decided to try, with the underlying motive is not the desire to return the “Northern territories”, and the changing geopolitical situation. Japan was faced with the need to solve a difficult situation: how not to be in the centre of a conflict between three major powers of the twenty-first century.

The problem can be solved only by becoming master of the situation. And Japan is preparing for the acquisition of geo-political independence – not now, but in the best case ten or twenty years. Relations with the US will gradually move from position a vassal–suzerain in format Junior partner – senior partner, and then just allied. To preserve its economic weight, Japan must once again become an independent force in world Affairs. And for that she should decide how to build relations with each of its three major neighbors: China, USA and Russia.

The aggravation of Japan’s relations with China, a strategic rapprochement between Russia and China, the inevitable growth of confrontation between China and the United States, as well as Russia and the United States – all these factors create for Tokyo new geopolitical reality. It would be wrong to assume that the Japanese will seek refuge in strengthening ties with the US. Yeah, now they go for the signing of the Pacific partnership, but it is a necessary measure related to fear Tokyo before the growing power of Beijing and the Japan understanding of their complete dependence on United States security.

But the Japanese are not satisfied with the role of the American client. In recent years Tokyo (and the same Abe) takes a clear focus on achieving greater independence for both military and international Affairs. Tokyo wants to balance in the triangle China – USA – Russia so that, even having a close relationship with the United States, not to enter into confrontation with Beijing, and even more so with a bunch of Beijing – Moscow.

All the post-war years, the Atlanticists saw the international role of Japan in the first place as the object in their game with the Chinese and Russian – and embarked on the path of independence Tokyo wants to finally be a subject of the big game. The more that rate it very high. Pacific region in the coming decades will be the main hotbed of opposition to the world powers, and Japan previously laid claim to power throughout Asia, simply can not enter the game as a puppet.

So when Abe said to Putin: “Let’s solve this problem together. A new approach to negotiations taking into account the global situation and focus on the future” – you need to understand what he has in mind not only and not so much of the island.

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