Territorial stupor: what Vladimir Putin is going to Japan

December 15, the Russian head of state after 11-year hiatus, will visit Japan. Vladimir Putin’s two day visit in two prefectures, will hold talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and attend the business forum. The two leaders will discuss expansion of cooperation in all areas, the discussion will include the Kuril issue, reported their representatives.

Economy as a condition

For Abe, the conclusion of a peace Treaty with Russia and the decision of the Kuril issue is one of the main issues on the agenda. At the meetings with the Russian leader he has been called to do it. “Let’s put an end to this abnormal situation, which lasted 70 years,” he urged Putin at the Eastern economic forum in Vladivostok in September of this year. The absence of a peace Treaty does not give the parties an opportunity multifaceted and comprehensively developing relations, so Russia will try to sign it, reiterated his positive attitude the Russian President in an interview with Japanese media ahead of his visit.

Russian President condition for the successful conclusion of the negotiations refers to the establishment between the two countries an atmosphere of trust; as an example, he cites the cooperation with China, which in 2008 Russia gave part of the Amur Islands. To increase trust, according to the President of Russia, joint economic activities, including the South Kuril Islands, as well as the introduction of a visa-free regime for the former residents of the Islands who wish to visit their homes.

Question about joint economic activities on the Islands can be resolved during this visit, said on Tuesday the assistant to the President Yuri Ushakov. According to him, we are talking about activities on all four disputed Islands. Informed the Japanese side shied away from this proposal.

Just after the visit preparing the ten interstate documents, up to 15 commercial, about 50 contracts can be signed by the representatives of business circles, said Ushakov.

The crisis is evident

In the past two years, mutual trade has been reduced: in 2015 the trade turnover amounted to us $21.3 billion, down almost a third year-on-year. In January—September this year it fell a further 28%, to $11.5 billion.

In may, at a meeting in Sochi with Japanese Prime Minister talked about the cooperation in eight areas. And now implemented planned then the plan, said the President of “Business Russia” Alexey Repik. For each of the eight points will be held round tables at the business forum in Tokyo, which on Friday will visit Putin and Abe. “The forum will be attended by over 300 participants from the Russian side and the same with the Japanese. According to our estimates, more than 50% of Japan’s GDP will be represented at the forum by the heads of Japanese companies”, — said Repik.

According to him, it shows a new level of trust between the two countries. To estimate the volume of transactions that will be concluded, it is difficult, but now he is “a little scary,” says Repik. According to him, the center of attraction for Japanese partners became far East. It was announced Japan’s interest in the project and in other regions. In November Hiroshige Seko, Minister of economy, who oversees the development of relations with Russia, said that one of the projects selected by the Japanese for the implementation was the development of the urban environment of Voronezh.

Representatives of the development Fund of the Far East and the Baikal region, created on the initiative of the Russian President, during a visit plan to hold talks with the Japan Bank for international cooperation (JBIC). We will focus on the development of both existing and future Russian-Japanese projects in the far East with a total value of over 200 billion rubles ($3 billion), said the representative of the Fund. In the short list of eight investment projects in which the Fund may act as a co-investor along with Japan — development of a woodworking complex in Primorye, the modernization of the Khabarovsk international airport, development of two coal deposits in Yakutia with the purpose of increase of coking coal production to 20 million tonnes per year, the construction of a coal terminal in a Bay of Muchke capacity to 24 million tonnes.

Solution in detail

According to the Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956 on the termination of a state of war, Putin said in an interview with Japanese media, first is a peace Treaty then comes into effect the Declaration and the two Islands transferred to Japan. However, the Declaration does not say on what terms they are sent and under whose sovereignty remains, said the Russian President.

In the text of article 9 of the Declaration States that the Soviet Union agrees to “transfer” in Japan the Habomai Islands and Shikotan island, “to meet the wishes of Japan and taking into account the interests of the Japanese state”. However, “transfer” does not mean “return”, so it is important the question of sovereignty, emphasizes the head of the Center for Japanese studies, Institute of Far Eastern studies Valery Kistanov.

Now the parties ‘ positions are quite far, so to come to a decision during the visit, Putin and the leaders can’t; maybe they will be limited to a statement on the issue, predicts Shimotomai Nobuo, Professor of comparative politics and Russian history, University Hosei (Tokyo), expert of the International discussion club “Valdai”. According to his observations, the level of trust, which they say side becomes higher at the level of leaders, but at the level of officials it is still not too high, and among the citizens is quite low, although there are signs of improvement. Kistanov recalls that Japanese officials recently have never talked about moving away from the main requirements is to pass under the control of Tokyo all the four Islands. Depending on what agreement the leaders will have to walk further negotiations and elaborated the details of the future judgment, predicts Kistanov.

Declaring a willingness to discuss the territorial issue with Japan, Russia will not refuse from the development of the Kuril Islands. In 2015 was approved by the target program of socio-economic development until 2025; its volume amounted to RUB 67 billion this year on Kunashir and Iturup were established coastal missile systems “Bal” and “Bastion”. According to the editor of the magazine “Arsenal Fatherland” Victor Murakhovski, the Kuril Islands are of paramount importance for the effective operation of the naval strategic forces of the Russian Navy in the Pacific. “If the island will give it significantly complicated by the conditions of the deployment position as in areas of combat patrol our missile submarines of strategic purpose,” — said murakhovski. The former head of coastal armies and marine corps of the Navy of Russia the General-major Vladimir Romanenko, on the contrary, believes that the modern means of reconnaissance, the location of the monitoring equipment on Sakhalin and the Kuriles’t matter.

The two prefectures and judo

Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan were discussed at the last two years. He postponed due to the negative attitude of the United States, reported Japanese media. However, Abe has used all opportunities for meetings with Putin. Japan imposed sanctions against Russia after the annexation of Crimea, but they are limited.

The first day the two leaders will hold in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Abe’s electoral district. Japanese Prime Minister back in November told me that “people are eagerly” awaiting the visit of the Russian leader. In the city of Nagato leaders will meet tete-a-tete with the participation of Ministers.

On Friday in Tokyo first there will be a working Breakfast, during which the leaders will be joined by representatives of business, then the documents will be signed and given a press conference. This will open the business forum. In conclusion, the two leaders will visit the Kodokan — judo, where Putin and Abe will meet with Vice President of Japanese Federation of judo by Yasuhiro Yamashita and former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who acted as a mediator in the resumption of negotiations. “There will be a demonstration performance, demonstration of traditional judo”, — said Ushakov. The output of Putin on a tatami is not planned.

With the participation of Gregory Milenina and Alena Mahakavi