On Thursday the Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan Acehide Sugi confirmed that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Russia during a European tour in early may. His statement gave The Japan Times. Talks with Abe will be held on may 6 in Sochi, reported in late April, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Visit under pressure
The may visit will be the first visit by Abe to Russia after the annexation of Crimea, which Japan does not recognize. The last time a Japanese Prime Minister visited Russia, also in Sochi, on the Olympic games in February 2014. The current Abe’s visit would be an informal, Japanese media reports.
Despite the lack of visits and that Japan joined the Western sanctions against Russia, contacts between Abe and Putin did not stop. Last year they held talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September during the G20 summit in Turkey in November, and also spoke several times on the phone. They discussed the possibility of President Putin’s visit to Japan. As said presidential spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, such a trip is not excluded this year.
On the eve of Abe’s visit to Tokyo was visited by the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. After this trip, the official representative of the foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova said in an interview to RT that a Russian-Japanese relations are developing not as much as I would like Moscow, because of pressure from the United States. Washington, according to her, strongly opposed any cooperation of Japan and Russia.
In February, the Kyodo News Agency reported that US President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation with Abe asked him to refrain from a visit to Russia before the summit “the big seven” which will pass in Japan in late may. As reported, Japanese Prime Minister did not agree with the arguments Obama.
Now, according to Zakharova, “there is hope for a thaw” in relations. In her words, “common sense and pragmatism can prevail. The choice of the place of negotiation shows that Abe and Putin are ready to restore personal confidence and to seek a solution to the southern Kuril Islands, writes The Japan Times.
As stated in the statement of the representative of Abe, the Prime Minister’s visit will be discussed the territorial dispute over the four South Kuril Islands, as well as international issues. During the first visit by Abe to the rank of Prime Minister to Moscow in the spring of 2013 he and Putin have agreed that we will seek a solution to the issue acceptable to both sides. Then began consultations at the level of Deputy foreign Ministers. However, they actually stop what Putin said during the April a straight line.
Abe demonstrates commitment to finding a solution to what he was talking about the President of Russia at negotiations in new York. A willingness to negotiate expressed by Putin. “We are ready for dialogue with Japan on this matter, including on the basis of the known documents, 1956, which have been ratified, I remind you, the Japanese Parliament,” the President said in April. However, he pointed out the difference between the situation in the Crimea and the southern Kuril Islands: “There are people who are unlikely to vote for annexation to Japan. This is a completely different situation with results of the Second world war.
In article 9 of the Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956 States that “the USSR, to meet the wishes of Japan and taking into account the interests of the Japanese state, agrees to transfer to Japan the Habomai Islands and the Shikotan Islands, provided, however, that the actual transfer of these Islands to Japan will be made after the conclusion of a peace Treaty”.
In 2001, Putin reaffirmed his commitment to the document, reminded the ex-Russian Ambassador to Japan Alexander Panov at the event at the Carnegie Moscow center, dedicated to the forthcoming summit. However, Japan recently said about the need for recognition of Japanese sovereignty over all four Islands, which is unacceptable for Russia, specifies the lords. Willingness to compromise from the Japanese side is not visible, and Russia has already made a step toward him, so gentry sees little prospect of progress on the peace Treaty at the talks the leaders in Sochi.
The economy is on the old base
During last year’s meetings with Abe, Putin noted that trade turnover between the countries has decreased. Total investment of Japanese companies in Russia, he estimated about $12 billion, With both sides declaring the necessity of development of business relations. However, that would be problematic, experts say. Turnover decreased by 30-40%, said the Executive Director of the Russian-Japanese business Council Igor Dyachenko. Reduction associated with the devaluation of the Russian currency, raised the question of insolvency, the structure of trade, which is dominated by Japanese cars and Russian energy resources, he says. Dean of the faculty of international relations of Russian Academy of Irina Timonina calls the existing structure of economic relations between the two countries archaic — raw materials in exchange for equipment.
An additional burden on economic relationships have given sanctions. As told Dyachenko, if before the imposition of sanctions for the supply of certain products (for example, pumps) of the company were to simply notify the government, after the sanctions started to actually act permissive. However, he points out, companies can solve the disputed issues.
The stagnation in economic relations experts explain the lack of interest of both governments in bringing relations to a new level. Russia has no understanding of the role of Japan in the system of its national interests, and Japan is now the main headache is China, said Panov. He drew attention to the fact that major projects have Russia and Japan not visible, and the current success is mainly the implementation of projects of the 1970s, when they invested in Japan on the basis of their interest in Russian energy resources.
The Director of the Carnegie Moscow center’s Dmitri Trenin notes that Russia has no serious strategy and objectives in relations with Japan, though Moscow and proclaimed the turn to the East. The twist is, in his opinion, turn in only one country — China, which hardly corresponds to Russian interests, despite the fact that relations with Japan, South Korea and India do not develop.
Given the lack of strategy and clearly defined objectives in the foreign policy of countries relative to each other, Abe’s visit will likely be very friendly, will be held in a good atmosphere, but is unlikely to lead to concrete results, says gentry.