Russia–Japan relations are robust irrespective of island impasses | East Asia Forum
Author: Dmitry Streltsov, MGIMO University. On 7 September , Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin. G7 foreign ministers' statement on recent events near the Kerch Strait (November 30, ); Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Interview with TASS Russian News. Relations between Russia and Japan are the continuation of the relationship of Japan with the Soviet Union from to , and with the Russian Empire.
The joint declaration was accompanied by a trade protocol that granted reciprocal most-favored-nation treatment and provided for the development of trade. Japan derived few apparent gains from the normalization of diplomatic relations. The second half of the s saw an increase in cultural exchanges. Soviet propaganda, however, had little success in Japan, where it encountered a longstanding antipathy stemming from the Russo-Japanese rivalry in Korea, Manchuria, and China proper in the late nineteenth century, from the Russo-Japanese War of ; and from the Soviet declaration of war on Japan in the last days of World War II, in violation of the Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact of The Soviet Union sought to induce Japan to abandon its territorial claims by alternating threats and persuasion.
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As early asit hinted at the possibility of considering the return of the Habomai Islands and Shikotan if Japan abandoned its alliance with the United States. In the Soviet government warned Japan against signing the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security with the United States, and after the treaty was signed, declared that it would not hand over the Habomai Islands and Shikotan under any circumstances unless Japan abrogated the treaty forthwith.
In the Soviet Union offered to return these islands unconditionally if the United States ended its military presence on Okinawa and the main islands of Japan. Despite divergence on the territorial question, on which neither side was prepared to give ground, Japan's relations with the Soviet Union improved appreciably after the mids. The Soviet government began to seek Japanese cooperation in its economic development plans, and the Japanese responded positively.
The two countries signed a five-year trade agreement in January and a civil aviation agreement as well. Economic cooperation expanded rapidly during the s, despite an often strained political relationship. The two economies were complementary, for the Soviet Union needed Japan's capital, technology, and consumer goods, while Japan needed Soviet natural resources, such as oil, gas, coal, iron ore, and timber. This economic cooperation was interrupted by Japan's decision in to participate in sanctions against the Soviet Union for its invasion of Afghanistan and by its actions to hold in obeyance a number of projects being negotiated, to ban the export of some high-technology items, and to suspend Siberian development loans.
Subsequently, Japanese interest in economic cooperation with the Soviet Union waned as Tokyo found alternative suppliers and remained uncertain about the economic viability and political stability of the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. Japanese-Soviet political relations during the s were characterized by the frequent exchange of high-level visits to explore the possibility of improving bilateral relations and by repeated discussions of a peace treaty, which were abortive because neither side was prepared to yield on the territorial issue.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko of the Soviet Union visited Tokyo in January one month before United States president Nixon's historic visit to China--to reopen ministerial-level talks after a six-year lapse. Brezhnev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, were held in Moscow during the next three years, but the deadlock on the territorial issue continued, and prospects for a settlement dimmed. Moscow began to propose a treaty of friendship and goodwill as an interim step while peace treaty talks were continued.
This proposal was firmly rejected by Japan. After the Soviet Union began openly to warn that the Japanese peace treaty with China might jeopardize Soviet-Japan relations. In JanuaryGromyko again visited Tokyo to resume talks on the peace treaty. When the Japanese again refused to budge on the territorial question, Gromyko, according to the Japanese, offered to return two of the Soviet-held island areas--the Habomai Islands and Shikotan--if Japan would sign a treaty of goodwill and cooperation.
Russia–Japan relations are robust irrespective of island impasses
He also reportedly warned the Japanese, in an obvious reference to China, against "forces which come out against the relaxation of tension and which try to complicate relations between states, including our countries.
Despite Japanese protestations that the treaty's antihegemony clause was not directed against any specific country, Moscow saw it as placing Tokyo with Washington and Beijing firmly in the anti-Soviet camp. Officially, both sides continued to express the desire for better relations, but Soviet actions served only to alarm and alienate the Japanese side.
The s Soviet military buildup in the Pacific was a case in point. The advent of the Mikhail Gorbachev regime in Moscow in saw a replacement of hard-line Soviet government diplomats who were expert in Asian affairs with more flexible spokespersons calling for greater contact with Japan. Gorbachev took the lead in promising new initiatives in Asia, but the substance of Soviet policy changed more slowly. In particular, throughout the rest of the s, Soviet officials still seemed uncompromising regarding the Northern Territories, Soviet forces in the western Pacific still seemed focused on and threatening to Japan, and Soviet economic troubles and lack of foreign exchange made prospects for Japan-Soviet Union economic relations appear poor.
By Japan appeared to be the least enthusiastic of the major Western-aligned developed countries in encouraging greater contacts with and assistance to the Soviet Union.
The government stated that it would not conduct normal relations with the Soviet Union until Moscow returned the Northern Territories. The government and Japanese business leaders stated further that Japanese trade with and investment in the Soviet Union would not grow appreciably until the Northern Territories issue has been resolved.
By the Soviet government had altered its tactics. The Soviet Union now acknowledged that the territorial issue was a problem and talked about it with Japanese officials at the highest levels and in working-level meetings.
Soviet officials reportedly floated a proposal to lease the Northern Territories and part of Sakhalin--once a colonial holding of Japan's--to Japan. Gorbachev and others also referred to a Soviet offer to return one of the three main islands Shikotan, the smallest of the three and the Habomai Islands, and there were indications that Moscow might be prepared to revive the offer. The Soviet Union emphasized that it would not return all the islands because of Soviet public opposition and the possible reawakening of other countries' territorial claims against the Soviet Union.
The Soviet military reportedly opposed a return because the Kuril Islands provided a protective barrier to the Sea of Okhotsk, where the Soviet navy deployed submarines carrying long-range ballistic missiles. The Soviet government also stepped up its diplomacy toward Japan with the announcement in that Gorbachev would visit Japan in Soviet officials asserted that their government would propose disarmament talks with Japan and might make more proposals on the Northern Territories in connection with the visit.
Observers believed that Gorbachev might propose a package dealing with the islands, arms reduction, and economic cooperation. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. The Russian foreign ministry has claimed that the death was caused by a "stray bullet".
We will build our relations, how the peoples of the two countries want them to be. Then- Foreign Minister Taro Aso remained on his post in the government.
Russia-Japan relations - The Japan Times
We have good, long-standing relations, we will act under the elaborated program. The Russian public was generally outraged by the action and demanded the government to counteract. The Foreign Minister of Russia announced on July 18, "[these actions] contribute neither to the development of positive cooperation between the two countries, nor to the settlement of the dispute," and reaffirmed its sovereignty over the islands.
Medvedev shortly ordered significant reinforcements to the Russian defences on the Kuril Islands. Medvedev was replaced by Vladimir Putin in In NovemberJapan held its first ever diplomatic talks with the Russian Federation, and the first with Moscow since the year The main purpose of meeting was approving joint economic activities on disputed islands off Hokkaido.
In their talks the both leaders decided to sign off on joint projects in five areas — aquaculture, greenhouse farming, tourism, wind power and waste reduction.