Prime Minister Abe of Japan to meet President Putin of Russia: Territorial Window?
Galina Zobova, Noriko Watanabe, and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan will shortly meet President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation. This meeting is potentially important because it provides both nations the chance to move forward and foster greater ties. Therefore, it is hoped that Abe and Putin can set the stage for future dynamic relations between Japan and the Russian Federation.
It is known that America is opposed to the meeting of Abe and Putin that will take place in the Russian Federation. Indeed, President Obama of America would have been more than happy if Abe had taken the advice of Washington. In other words, Abe should have cancelled according to Obama but thankfully Japan is following its own national self-interests.
Bilateral ties remain hindered by the territorial dispute between Japan and the Russian Federation. At the same time, the G-7 is opposed to the actions being taken by Moscow in relation to events in the Ukraine. Despite this, it is clear that Japan supports future dialogue between G-7 nations and the Russian Federation.
Abe said “The Northern Territories (Kurile) issue can’t be resolved without direct talks between leaders… We have had more than 70 years of the post-war era and still a peace treaty has not been concluded. This is anomalous.”
In a past article, Modern Tokyo Times said “The government of Japan under Prime Minister Abe needs to take a bold and urgent step to focusing strongly on the Russian Federation. Of course, America will remain to be a powerful pivot for the foreseeable future. However, if political elites in Tokyo are wise then the other powerful pivot could become the Russian Federation. After all, the military rise of China is gathering pace, tensions are increasing in the South China Sea between various nations based on China’s increasing assertiveness, the Korean Peninsula remains volatile, China and Taiwan issues remain, energy issues are problematic for Japan – and the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea could hinder energy supply routes based on various tensions – and other important factors remain. Therefore, it is essential for Japan to diversify its energy, to focus on new markets, to increase geopolitical safeguards and to have a solid relationship with a major regional and international power. This reality points to Japan forging powerful relations with the Russian Federation irrespective of constraints put on Tokyo by political elites in Washington.”
Interestingly, given the backdrop of international events involving the Russian Federation and G-7 nations, then a window of opportunity does exist. However, will political elites in the Russian Federation be brave enough to place a minor islet under the jurisdiction of Japan in the near future, in return for major economic and political support? If so, then Japan and the Russian Federation could focus on solving other territorial issues at a later date – while strengthening economic and political ties that are in the interests of both nations.
The above scenario may not come into play during talks between Abe and Putin this time – yet, sooner or later both nations must decide to forge concrete and mutually beneficial relations. After all, from an economic, geopolitical, and energy point of view, then clearly both Japan and the Russian Federation would gain significantly. Therefore, it is hoped that a possible window of opportunity will emerge in the near future based on the goodwill of Abe and Putin to solve very complex issues – while guaranteeing security preventative measures to constrain outside nations.
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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