Libmonster ID: U.S.-1408
Author(s) of the publication: H. KIMURA
Educational Institution \ Organization: Takusyoku University

Apparently, personal relations between the leaders of our countries - Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro and President Vladimir Putin-have developed well. They held informal talks during international meetings 5 times. In January 2003, Prime Minister Koizumi paid an official visit to Russia and spoke for an hour and a half with President Putin in his Kremlin office, and in May of the same year visited St. Petersburg. The second official visit of the Russian president to Japan is planned for 2005.

Good relations have developed not only between the leaders themselves, but also at the government level. The exchange of visits and negotiations between Foreign Ministers Kawaguchi, Ivanov and his successor Lavrov, as well as the heads of national defense departments, can be considered quite successful. Joint programs on security issues have been developed, which until recently, during the Cold War, was impossible to imagine.

In general, relations between our countries are developing smoothly. Former Russian Ambassador to Japan Alexander Panov concluded that today, with the exception of the territorial issue, there are no acute and unsolvable problems in them, and that relations have thus reached a period of good neighborliness. Ambassadors usually try to emphasize the positive aspects in relations between their country and the one in which they are accredited, because the state of these relations is at least partially on their conscience. Without disputing the above, I note that Japanese-Russian relations cannot be seen in pink alone.

To put it bluntly, these relations have not yet reached the proper level. Here are some examples. Japan's share is 3% in Russia's foreign trade balance, while Russia's share in Japan's foreign trade balance is 0.6%, compared to 25% for the United States and 8.4% for China. In 2002, 15 million Japanese went abroad, but the number of visitors to Russia did not exceed 70 thousand. Some people think that maintaining this state of affairs should not cause alarm. But this is an unmistakable mistake.

DIRECTIONS AND TASKS OF BILATERAL COOPERATION

There are still enough problems in relations between our countries, and they need to be resolved. Raising Japanese-Russian contacts to a new level will help this, while failure will make things worse and complicate further relations. I will try to highlight what I personally think is particularly important.

First, it is the Chinese factor, which is becoming increasingly important in the twenty-first century. Where will this powerfully developing country with a population approaching 1.3 billion people go? It has an impact on the whole world, but will it be positive or negative? Russia has a 4,300-kilometer land border with China. Japan sees China as the largest springboard for placing its production facilities abroad. These facts speak for themselves.

Secondly, it is the problem of North Korea and its relations with the world community, which is no less, if not more topical, than the Iraq or Iran issue. First of all, we are talking about nuclear weapons and their tests. Kim Jong Il's regime is not easy to deal with, but who can say what will happen if it falls. It is impossible to ignore the fact of mass migration of Koreans to the Russian Far East, as recently mentioned by the Primorsky governor Darkin.

Third, there are energy problems. North-East Asia, including Siberia, the Far East and Sakhalin, is rich in energy resources, but their development and implementation in a competitive global market requires the cooperation of all interested countries. We need money, people, equipment, and technology.

Fourth, there are demographic problems. The population of Russia is shrinking, which causes deep concern among the country's leadership. In Japan, the situation is different: the average life expectancy * is growing, but the society itself is aging. At the same time, the population of neighboring China is constantly growing, and more and more Chinese are migrating to Russia.-

In Japan: 78.1 years for men, 84.9 for women; in Russia: 59.9 for men, 72.3 for women.

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The Siberian Far East. In recent years, President Putin has repeatedly expressed his concern about the current situation, especially during trips to the region.

Finally, there are environmental issues, such as the disposal of nuclear warheads and nuclear submarines that Russia inherited from the USSR, or the disposal of nuclear waste. Using the Sea of Japan for this purpose is extremely dangerous. The same should be said about Sakhalin, where the successful development of its natural resources requires complete security.

ADVANTAGES OF ACTIVE COOPERATION

I have mentioned only a few issues that are relevant for both Russia and Japan. It is easy to see that most of them are related to regional development. Within this framework, we can talk about economic complementarity and even interdependence. Siberia and the Far East are rich in natural resources, but the region's declining population makes it difficult to develop them. Therefore, experts are increasingly talking about the need to attract Chinese labor and Japanese capital and technology. This is a matter of survival for the entire region.

A number of analysts (for example, Dmitry Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center) directly call Japan the most suitable partner for Russia in the development of the Far East, referring to its economic power, technological leadership and geopolitical status. If successful, this partnership will have a positive impact across Asia. The Eurasian, Euro-Asian consciousness is gradually gaining supporters in both Japan and Russia.

LACK OF EFFORT - WHAT IS THE REASON?

Efforts should be made on both sides - both Russia and Japan. Only then will there be a real chance to improve relations, which will be a plus not only for the two countries, but for the whole of Asia and the whole world. But why hasn't it happened yet?

First, both sides ' perceptions of each other are insufficient and largely incorrect, and there is clearly a lack of trust in the relationship. Of course, Russia is no longer the former communist dictatorship with a command and administrative system; it is moving towards democracy, but it is moving slowly and zigzagging. This gives rise to misunderstandings and doubts about whether it is possible to deal with it. In turn, little is known about Japan in Russia, with the exception of sushi and Murakami Haruka's novels. Russians are used to seeing their role models in Europe, and in Asia they see mainly China and India, which are intimidating with their military power. So there is a lack of attention to each other.

This leads to a second reason: Japan and Russia are not yet on each other's list of foreign policy priorities. This also creates inconsistencies in the overall strategy of the two countries, which should pay more attention to their partners.

Does Japan have a far-reaching strategy for Russia? Prime Minister Koizumi announced plans for the "Pacific Way" - the construction of an oil pipeline from Eastern Siberia. Will this become the basis of Japanese policy in this direction, or will it remain a declaration? Similar questions can be addressed to the Russian leadership, which also does not yet have a well-thought-out long-term strategy for Japan. Russian policy is mostly directed towards the United States and Europe. But Russia is also part of Asia, and this cannot be ignored.

How does Russia see Japan's place in Asia? Traditionally, the focus has been on China and India, especially given the nuclear factor. Russia sells weapons to both countries, as well as to Indonesia, Ma-

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laizia, Vietnam. There is a growing interest in Southeast Asia. After Russia's official admission to the G8, it must fully consider Japan as one of the world's leading powers. And not just to be reckoned with, but to cooperate, especially in the face of all the problems that it faces in the Far East.

NECESSITY OF A PEACE Treaty

To improve Japanese-Russian relations and bring them to a new level, it is necessary to conclude a peace treaty so that they finally become normal. After all, almost sixty years have passed since the end of the war! But it's not just that. We need a comprehensive agreement that will lay the foundations for cooperation in all areas.

It is also necessary to solve the problem of territorial demarcation, which creates tension in our relations. Its solution will open the way to a peace treaty. Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin have stated that the border between Japan and Russia is not definitively established. Putin spoke more strongly than his predecessors about the possibility of resolving this issue on the basis of the Joint Declaration of 1956 - that is, on the transfer of Habomai and Shikotan to Japan. He also confirmed that the 1993 Tokyo Declaration remains in force. So the problem rests on the transfer of Kunashir and Iturup.

When conducting negotiations, the Russian side often uses the same technique - first it sets inflated, unacceptable requirements for the partner, and then gradually concedes, offering to divide everything in half as a result. The Japanese side immediately puts forward the final option, which does not provide for further concessions. Japan is ready to recognize Russia's rights to 18 islands of the South Kuril Ridge, but demands the return of four islands. This position is clearly held by Prime Minister Koizumi. Now it's up to Russia.

conclusion

Above, I criticized both Japan and Russia for not having a long-term strategy for each other. In response to my criticism, my opponents usually put forward three points. First, no matter what country or leaders they are talking about, they generally lack a long-term strategy. Second, both Russia and Japan are guided by the United States and build their policies accordingly, so that changes in Washington's course cannot be avoided. Third: the future of China is not entirely clear, and given this, it is difficult to plan anything.

All this is true, but it does not in the least reject the possibility and necessity for Russia and Japan to build a long-term strategy of bilateral relations. Let's not refer to the "international situation", "America", "China". Let us work together to ensure that Japanese-Russian relations finally become full-blooded and that "good neighborliness", "friendship", "dialogue", and "cooperation" do not remain beautiful but empty words.

 


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