Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his country’s relations with Russia one of the priority policy objectives in the period of his reign, continued to experiment in the Russian direction. Big words and intent a lot. Then the program of economic cooperation with its Northern neighbor of eight items, and consent to participate in the development of the Russian Kuril Islands, which Tokyo considers “his”, and apparently trusting friendly relationship with the President of the Russian Federation, and the wide cultural exchanges in the period of the cross Year of Russia in Japan and of Japan in Russia.
All this gives grounds to the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, his deputies, Ambassador to Japan, and to the President of the Russian Federation to talk about the progressive movement, the new quality of relations between the two countries. With special satisfaction caused by the plans of development of economic relations. Although the results of the implementation of the “plan Abe of the eight points” while modest, the leaders of both countries invariably point to more than a hundred projects which have already been de agreed upon.
All of this would genuinely be welcome, if not one “but”. Unlike the 70-ies of the last century, when Japanese business was active in the Soviet Union, where the projects are real and considerable profit, the current programme is largely politicized and aimed primarily at the rejection of the Russian Kuril Islands at any cost, do not decline tricks like joint economic activities.
Abe and his advisers, making sure that unceremoniously, threats to curtail economic and other ties with Moscow to regain the results of the war, the Kuril Islands and their surrounding resource-rich waters will fail, resorted to the so-called “economic carrot”, trying to interest the Russian large benefits from cooperation with Japan. But, of course, not disinterested. The Japanese can be really generous, but this generosity is always carefully calculated.
A feature of the current tactics Abe is a failure, it is possible that temporary, longstanding principle policy of our country, called “law, seikei, focobon” — “the inseparability of politics and Economics”, to tactics, which can be called “political order through the economy”. As shown by the performance of Prime Minister Abe at the St. Petersburg economic forum, Russian will enjoy an unprecedented prosperity from cooperation with Japan. And need something to do this, from the point of view of Abe, nothing at all — to give the Kuril Islands.
Even with the Gorbachev-Yeltsin era formed part of the Russian establishment, ignited the idea to convert the strategically important Kuril Islands to the economic and financial “benefits” from rich Japan. Around Gorbachev and Yeltsin became active almost openly working in the interests of Tokyo “agents of influence”, which, I believe, disinterestedly convinced their patrons more likely to make concessions to Japanese demands in response to which allegedly will certainly follow “no limits” Japan’s assistance. And they, along with their Japanese partners almost succeeded. Yeltsin was ready to deal.
It took an open letter to twenty leading Russian doctors of Sciences and professors, specialists on Japan and Russian-Japanese relations in various fields, including economic and trade, — personally to the President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin with the explanation that things are not as rosy as painted by the representatives of “Pro-Japanese lobby”, and made his way to the upper floors of the foreign Ministry. Specialists with deep knowledge of the case explained that the concession of the Kuril Islands will not lead to large-scale Japanese assistance to Russia:
“A common misconception, imposed by the leadership of our country, the Japanese propaganda is the idea that territorial concessions, or promises of concessions in the future… will lead to the fact that our country will be shed abundant “yen rains”: the Japanese banks and business firms are not subject to the Tokyo politicians and diplomats and never will go to the altruistic, charitable financial and economic operations.”
Then this appeal together with other factors had an effect — Yeltsin three days before departure canceled his official visit to Japan. During this visit, the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Kozyrev and Kunadze, the Deputy was preparing the surrender of the Kuril Islands according to the formula “two plus alpha”, that is, the Islands of Habomai and Shikotan are given immediately, and on the largest Islands of the greater Kuril ridge — Kunashir and Iturup — negotiations.
Interesting conversation on the topic of “the Kuril Islands over the financial and economic assistance” had the author of these lines with a prominent Japanese politician, who explained the position of Japan in case of transfer of the South Kuril Islands to Japan and the signing of the peace Treaty: “of Course, in this case we will thank the Russian leadership. Apparently, it can even cause a surge in trade and economic relations. But let the leaders of Russia don’t expect it will last indefinitely — a year or two. That is, a period of “honeymoon”… And then, as newlyweds, will come everyday, routine life. Besides, frankly speaking, the Japanese do not allow a long time to thank for the Kuril Islands because we consider them his, and because, by and large, here and thank for that. And the Americans was a sharp improvement in Japan’s relations with Russia will hardly be to their liking…”
However, the euphoria drawn by Prime Minister Abe, “the future prosperity of the Russian Far East” in Japanese money and technology in the case of Smoke does not leave the heads of certain Russian leaders. Evidence a lot. Especially actively conducted propaganda of success in the field of trade and economic cooperation, aimed at creating conditions for resolving the problem of territorial demarcation and the signing of the peace Treaty. Take, entered the fashion of the ceremony of sharing folders with the “protocols of intent” in the eyes of the satisfied leaders of the two countries.
About how in reality, not in the bravura reports of politicians and diplomats, is the case of Sino-Russian trade and economic cooperation, told a leading newspaper in Japan, “Asahi Shimbun” in the article “the Moment of truth for economic relations between Russia and Japan”. Listing all the policy measures aimed at enhancing economic ties between the two countries, “Asahi” has to say that, “despite the opportunities, the trade is not developing”.
In support of this conclusion: “unfortunately, the status of Japan as a trading partner of Russia in recent years has been reduced… Until 2016 Japan ranked seventh, but in 2017 it dropped to ninth place. In addition, Japan’s share in total exports to Russia fell to an unprecedented in recent years at 3.1%. If to analyze the latest statistics for the period from January to may 2018, this trend does not change. While Japan is losing its position, China and other countries gradually strengthen them”.
“Moreover, — the author writes Michitaka Hattori, I was shocked that in 2017, South Korea has overtaken Japan. From the point of view of trade relations with Russia, Japan became the first to play second fiddle, behind the leadership of South Korea. Besides the developed countries of the West, which, it seems, are in irreconcilable confrontation with Russia, also ahead of Japan in terms of trade with Russia. Watching all this, not to be confused… the Fact that the relationship does not develop in proportion to the slogans. I think Japan is the only country, officials and private businesses which relate to the expansion of economic relations with Russia are so picky.”
The author notes that very little changed the structure of exports and imports in trade and economic relations of Japan with Russia. In Japan comes from Russia mainly raw materials, while more than half of Japan’s exports to our country accounts for the production of the Japanese car industry.
Legally, the question arises: “where is the much-anticipated Russian government, latest Japanese technology, new factories, new materials, progress in biotechnology? Or is it, in the end, will be reduced to the construction of the Japanese greenhouses for growing strawberries, and “smart” traffic lights in Voronezh? But, sorry, we do not expect this from a leader of scientific-technical progress”.
Those who can as an excuse to invoke “sanctions” against Russia, the author notes that declared Tokyo’s sanctions against Moscow “exist only on paper.” But it also recognizes that “the sanctions have vague language, and Japanese companies that have no significant influence refuse business in Russia, following the lead of the United States.” And it’s true. Get at least a refusal to buy Russian aluminum out of fear of discontent “uncle Sam”. So, as stated previously, policies determine whether to develop trade and economic relations of Japan and Russia, and the Japanese business which is not going to take risks for the ambitious plans of the current Prime Minister Abe. Of course, he may announce a program of eight or more points, but to fulfill their needs of Japanese businessmen, who may have their own considerations. Apparently, it was given the position of the Japanese business, the author of the article in “Asahi” comes to the reasonable conclusion that “the Japan that wants to make a breakthrough in bilateral relations with Russia, using economic leverage, is extremely tough conditions.”
And Moscow politicians should understand this and not indulge in dreams and illusions about “yen rains” and advanced Japanese technology.