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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The experts evaluated the possibility of a compromise between Russia and Japan over the Kuril Islands

Russia does not trade in its territories, but is interested in finding a compromise with Japan on the Kuril issue. It is again, this time in an interview with Bloomberg, stated the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader gave a massive interview ahead of the meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is expected that around the problem of the South Kuril Islands will be a key subject of negotiations.

photo: Alexander Astafyev

Putin noted that Russia already has a long experience of solving territorial disputes in the far East. In particular, with China, regarding Tarabarov island in the Amur river. “MK” remembered, as developed in the territorial conflict with China, and talked with the experts to understand — is there a compromise between Moscow and Tokyo.

“We are not talking about some kind of exchange, not about some sales. We are talking about finding a solution where neither side would feel bent out of shape,” – said Putin, speaking about the possibility of a compromise in the Kuril issue.

The Russian President recalled the dispute over Tarabarov island and nearby Islands on the Amur river. Since 1964 in the territory claimed by China. In 2004, Moscow and Beijing failed to sign an agreement, and ratified a year later. “40 years — and in the end found a compromise – recalled in an interview with Bloomberg Putin. – Part of the territory finally set out for Russia, part of the territory finally assigned to the people’s Republic of China.”. Recall, we are talking about a complete transfer to China Islands Tarabarov, dubbed Inglund, and the Western part of the Big Ussuri island.

Speaking of Japan, Putin referred to the agreement on the Kuril Islands between Moscow and Tokyo in 1956 year. According to him, the Japanese are to the two Islands – Shikotan and Habomai, – after the peace Treaty is signed between the two countries (at the moment he hasn’t signed).

As far as possible that the dispute over the Kuril Islands will become final and acceptable to both Moscow and Tokyo? We asked the experts.

“In Putin’s interview to repeat what has previously been said – said in an interview with “MK” leading researcher of the research center Japan Institute for Far Eastern studies Viktor PAVLYATENKO.

The President has talked about the need for compromise. But the options for this are very limited.In particular, we are talking hypothetically about a possible transfer to Japan, requiring all four South Kuril Islands, two of them: Shikotan and Habomai. It should be noted that they represent only about 7% of the total area, which is claimed by the Japanese. Formally, however, this is half, so the Russian side does not look like a loser, because I would not go to the transfer of all the Islands.

But, whatever it was, it is still primarily necessary is the fact of exclusion of the territory of Shikotan and Habomai from Russian territory. No other options (for example, promises the transfer of the Islands to a specific year), from the perspective of Tokyo, it can not be, should be a fait accompli. Because the Japanese public and above all the political establishment (and especially conservative circles with influence on the formation of a government) to the adoption of any long-term promises will not go.”

“Of course, to find a compromise on this issue is very difficult. He had been trying to find, and the closest to this came, perhaps, in 2001 when in Irkutsk held a meeting and Putin holding then a post of the Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, – reminded the “MK” head of the Department of diplomacy of MGIMO Alexander PANOV. – Then from the Russian side for the first time officially confirmed that Russia considers the current position for yourself, recorded in the ninth article of the joint Declaration of 1956, which is now again referred to Putin. He also stressed that the document was ratified by the legislatures of both countries, which is extremely important. Thus, the President confirmed the position 15 years ago that the 1956 Declaration can be the basis for negotiations and compromise. Although Putin has made a reservation that we’re no closer to compromise than 60 years ago.

It is known that the Japanese still want to get all four and not two Islands. But it is interesting that lately, according to polls, more than 50% of Japanese would agree to the wording from 1956 only on two Islands. This is the first in many years, a powerful shift in the public mood. When I am in Japan, I notice that more and more Japanese politicians, public figures and scientists speak of the ability and willingness of his country to resolve the Kuril issue on the basis of the Declaration of 1956.

Japan, Abe said he is ready to solve the problem on a new database. Some scientists suppose, if Russia can give all the Islands in exchange for economic cooperation. But this is not a realistic approach. In my opinion, the solution to this issue could be found, there are opportunities for this. There is an obvious need and the relationship another level.

In Russian public opinion, unfortunately, the strong anti-Japanese sentiment, although objectively, Japan is the most friendly to us the state of all of the “big seven”, and there is no threat to us is not. The Japanese offer us not only economic cooperation but political interaction, and exchange in military sphere, as mentioned by Abe at the meeting with Putin in Sochi.

This is a very friendly position, and it is no coincidence that Putin, beginning your answer to the question in an interview with Bloomberg, used the phrase “our Japanese friends”. It is friends and not partners. It is unlikely that we could hear now, for example, of “German friends”.


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