Japan protests against the PM of Russia visiting Iturup Island: Economic changes
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Japan made formal protests to the Russian Federation after Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin visited Iturup Island in the South Kuril Islands. According to Japan, the region belongs to Japan and is called the Northern Territories. However, the South Kuril Islands are currently controlled by the Russian Federation, irrespective of claims by Japan and political posturing by political elites within the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Russian Federation, unlike Japan’s territorial disputes with China and South Korea, is more open towards Japan and seeks to increase the economic angle between both nations. Thus, given the relations between China and Japan – and Japan and South Korea – it is clear that a window of opportunity exists between the Russian Federation and Japan concerning the goodwill of President Vladimir Putin.
Shinzo Abe, the former leader of Japan, had favorable relations with Putin. Hence, both leaders met often to discuss the complexity of the situation. This also includes the American dynamic concerning the armed forces of America being based in several parts of Japan. Therefore, the American military angle must be acknowledged by Japan for real economic and political substance to be made that suits both the Russian Federation and Japan.
TASS News reports, “For decades, Moscow and Tokyo have been holding consultations in order to clinch a peace treaty as a follow-up to World War II. The southern Kuril Islands issue remains the key sticking point. In 1945, the whole archipelago was handed over to the Soviet Union. Tokyo laid claims to Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and a group of uninhabited islands. The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated that Moscow’s sovereignty over the islands is enshrined in international law and cannot be called into question.”
According to Reuters, the Russian Federation is planning a special economic zone. This will entail reduced taxes and no customs. Putin said something “absolutely unique and unprecedented” is in the offing concerning developments between both nations in boosting the economic angle of the region.
Katsunobu Kato, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, said, “We would like to refrain from guessing [about their contents] but we have been engaged in active talks with the Russian side about the issue of the joint economic activity in the northern territories (as Japan refers to the South Kuril Islands — TASS) and how to go ahead with it without violating legal positions of both countries.”
NHK reports, “Japan and Russia have been negotiating joint economic activity on the islands. But there has been little progress in recent years.”
The Russian Federation expected formal complaints about the visit of Mishustin to the South Kuril Islands. However, it appears that behind the scenes that Putin is optimistic about a step forward between both nations concerning the development of the disputed area.
Photo source: Kremlin.ru
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