Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Negotiations with Russia will not be easy..."

Given the apparent tendency of the Hatoyama naikaku (spec. Cabinet; in usage, Administration) to think that everything ever done by previous administrations is fair game for a re-think... cf. U.S. Base negotiations and the Privatization of Japan Post, just to pick two obvious examples... was a joy to hear Maehara Seiji (S. Maehara), who holds both the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism portfolio and the State Ministry for Okinawa, the Northern Territories and Disaster Management, use the opportunity of a visit to the closest point of approach to the islands to say the truth:
"Historically, the Northern Territories are an integral part of Japan. It is literally an illegal occupation (by Russia) and Japan should keep saying so."
(Note on the linked article: The Islands of the Northern Territories were occupied over the course of August 18th and September 3rd of 1945... after the announcement of surrender. The article leaves that in doubt.)

S. Maehara also spoke about the coming round of negotiations with Russia on the sidelines of the November (see Edit, below) East Asia Meetings as "...will not be easy but we will do our best".

Hm. That sounds all too much like the Italy G8 summit sideline, which resulted in nothing. Why is there a vague sense of worry coming into play about now?


That would be because the guy back in '56 who negotiated the Joint Declaration was also named Hatoyama. Signed the letter under situational duress (over a thousand Japanese "internees" were still in Soviet hands in 1956), but that didn't seem to overmuch influence his role. That Declaration only covered restoring diplomatic activities, although it famously includes a promise by the Soviets to hand over two of the four Northern Territories "after the conclusion of a Peace Treaty".

How swell of them.

They want the Hatoyama of today to be as compliant as the Hatoyama of yesterday, and have said so:
Russia has already begun its approach to Hatoyama and his government, as evidenced by the prompt call on the prime minister by Ambassador Bely. Following their meeting, Andrei Nesterenko, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters that Moscow hopes that Hatoyama "will make the right decision like his grandfather."
Did I mention that Hatoyama Kiichirou (K. Hatoyama), the son of Hatoyama Yukio (Y. Hatoyama; the current P.M.), is living in Moscow *now* as a student at University of Moscow?

It is either friendship or one heck of a potential duress item, and either would suit the goals of the Putin-Medvedev administration come negotiations time.

That vague sense of worry just got a whole lot less vague.

S. Maehara is probably going to have to go up against two Prime Ministers to win through on this.

...not easy, indeed.


*Edit: the East Asia meetings began late this week. Oddly, media reports here on Y. Hatoyama's meeting schedule do not mention any scheduled time with Russian representatives. There may be something in November that was conflated with the East Asia meetings in the previous reports.

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