Monday morning comes, and with it to Toukyou (Tokyo) came Председатель Правительства Российской Федерации (Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation; roughly “Prime Minister”) Vladimir Putin and his vast entourage of “business” negotiators, arriving for the final round of the Japan-Russia Nuclear Cooperation agreement talks… and a whole lot of side business.
Here is a summary report from Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty on the Russian version of the trip:
Putin told Japanese media the accord would increase the share of Russian nuclear fuel on the Japanese market to 25 percent from 15 percent.The thing is, though, that as of last weekend *the deal was not yet done*. The Moscow Times (English-language source) reports (cited here):
He is also seeking Japanese investment in about 200 other projects, including automobile, energy, space, communications, and steel-manufacturing projects, the "Nikkei" business daily reported after an interview with Putin.
"We intend to sign a host of inter-governmental agreements. And I think representatives of business will come to sign significant contracts," Putin said, according to a transcript of the interview supplied by the Russian government.
"We have observed a rise in Japanese investment into the Russian economy," said Putin, who will meet Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on May 12.
Japan's ambassador to Moscow, Masaharu Kono, was less optimistic, saying Friday that the countries had yet to reach a final agreement on the matter, Interfax reported.Gee, any thoughts on why such a series of mutually beneficial agreements might be a tough deal to close?
…there might be a little open issue still on the table from back in 1945?
Like the fact that there is no Peace Treaty or final border settlement between Japan and Russia.
Like the fact that the then Soviet Armed Forces not only chose to occupy the Japanese territories of Karafuto, Chishima and the Hoppou Ryoudo, respectively Sakhalin Island (southern portion), the Kurile Islands and the Northern Territories (islands adjacent to Hokkaidou), but has claimed sovereignty over all of them. The claim of the Russian Government is that Sakhalin and the Kuriles have been exchanged back and forth by previous agreements (some in the wake of wars) and so are separable territory as called for under the Potsdam Declaration’s dismantlement of Imperial Japan. Where their claim really gets weak, though, is the attachment of the four coastal islands of the Northern Territories to the long arc of the Kurile Islands, something that was never considered even going back to the original 1855 boundary delineation (the first time a line was drawn). Here is a convenient map reference, not so much for the Russian / Russianized names on the map, but for the easy-to-see red lines showing: the 1855 line; the 1875 revised settlement, and; the 1945 line-of-control.
The policy of Japan has been to effectively concede the matter of Sakhalin and the Kuriles, for reasons that are legally unfathomable but might be explained by someone trying the “nice guy” approach so as to not call into question the terms of the Treaty of San Francisco. Had the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of San Francisco, of course, this matter would have been long decided by the terms of implementation… but Stalin had some rather grand ideas about the Far East and it wasn’t until after he was gone in ’56 that even a cessation of hostilities was formalized (by letter, not armistice). What Japan *did not concede*, at any time, was that the Northern Territories were anything but Japanese territory.
The Soviet reply and the Russian reply ever since, to that policy statement has been: “We Won. Bugger Off.” Oh, and they evicted the entire native population of the islands.
So why on this Green Earth are we cutting business deals with Russia?
Because we have apologists and opportunists working the media on behalf of selfish interests. (Note to readers of past newsletters: yes, *that* Suzuki Muneo (M. Suzuki); he’s still at it; He got out of jail and got back into the House of Representatives.)
Now there are some reasonable voices and they have noticed The Importance of being Putin…(source in Japanese)
(In regard to the Northern Territories Issue resolution) “The Prime Minister (Putin) being the very, very powerful leader, unless you obtain both the understanding and support of the Prime Minister, it won’t happen.” (This source in the Gaimushou; Japanese Foreign Ministry) expressed that beneficial exchange of opinions is expected (hoped for).Again, fine; good luck with that.
It seems pretty clear that efforts at the “nice guy” approach haven’t cut the mustard.
Furthermore, it seems that cutting deal after deal for business purposes hasn’t gotten the job done, either.
Now this is not to say that doing business with one’s neighbors is a bad thing… it certainly isn’t.
But it simply defies comprehension to be doing business with a country that is occupying your territory and lacks even the fig leaf of legal justification to be doing so.
So welcome back to Japan, Mr. Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation. Now that you are here with what is arguably hat-in-hand looking for “business”, how about you show off a bit of that “very, very powerful” stuff and commit the Russian Federation to getting off of our islands and getting on with negotiating a peace treaty? (in that order, preferably)
You’ll probably get a lot of good business opportunities, and it wouldn’t be onerous of you to ask for some relocation assistance for the Russian nationals that would be displaced. They have been stuck there for 60 years, after all.
Heck, we’d even throw M. Suzuki in the deal, too. You folks seem to get along so well.
No deal without getting our islands back.
In fact, if the current administration has any pride at all, no deals of any kind until we get our islands back.
This farce has gone on long enough.
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translation from the Japanese-language citation by this author.