Sep 5, 2021
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Is Japan ready to fight for the Kuril Islands?

Is Japan ready to fight for the Kuril Islands?

Photo: Sergey Krasnoukhov / TASS

Japan should start “Act ruthlessly” in the situation with the Kuriles. Such sentiments are increasingly common among readers of the Japanese media. In particular, the comments on the words of the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry are written in this spirit. Sergey Lavrov readers of the Internet portal Yahoo News Japan.

Let us remind you that the Russian minister expressed a negative attitude towards joint economic activities in the “northern territories”, which was proposed by the Japanese side, noting that the Russian Constitution prohibits working according to a legal system that differs from Russian legislation.

In addition, he called on countries other than Japan to invest in the islands, stressing that economic development is possible without Japan.

Many users agreed that it is high time for Japan to change its tactics on the issue of the “northern territories”. One of them expressed the opinion that Moscow will never give up the Kuril Islands, so Tokyo’s attempts to “please” it make no sense.

“Japan should rebuild its diplomacy – on the assumption that the Kuril Islands will not be returned, or at least that Russia does not intend to do this,” – he wrote.

Another noted that Tokyo should cool down and rethink the current situation, stressing that so far Japanese diplomacy is failing in the “Kuril issue.”

“Japan just needs to retreat silently. No further action is required. Farewell!” – he thinks.

“<…> Russia has strengthened its position and now looks down on us “, – writes the third.

Other readers suggested “staying away from Russia” as the cooperation with Japan only strengthens its already developed technological capabilities.

However, not all Japanese users are in a peaceful mood. So, the commentator under the nickname Tsu called on Japan “Start acting ruthlessly” and impose sanctions against Russia.

Another user is convinced that Tokyo will be able to return the “northern territories” only by starting a war, otherwise it will have to “Endure humiliation”

Previously Vladimir Putin said that the Kuril Islands will create an unprecedented tax regime for business, which will be exempt from taxes for ten years. According to him, not only Russian businessmen, but also foreign investors will be able to take advantage of the new advantages.

All these statements by Russian politicians make one think that Moscow has realized that there will be no joint development within the framework of Russian legislation and there is nothing to talk about with Japan. In addition, the upcoming resignation of the Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Sugi speaks of the continuing instability of the Japanese government (Sugi’s predecessor Shinzo Abe also retired a year ago), which means that dialogue with Tokyo is not only difficult, but also useless.

Nevertheless, the reaction of Japanese Internet users is cause for concern. Of course, such a “cut” can hardly be considered representative, but there are such sentiments, they did not appear today and tend to intensify. And the Japanese authorities either turn a blind eye to it, or they themselves warm it up …

“It’s strange to hear the word“ ruthless ”in a situation when it is only about CONSEQUENTIAL and, in part, persistent actions of Japan in relation to the issue, which is today the main foreign policy priority of the Japanese leadership,” considers Director of the EAEU Institute Vladimir Lepekhin… – And these actions will be even more persistent in connection with the manifestation of the Russian leadership of the weakness and inconsistency of its position in a number of areas.

The main weakness of the Russian Federation is its stubborn adherence to the raw material orientation of its economy. Russia needs markets for the sale of hydrocarbons, including the Japanese market. Hence the desire of the Japanese elites to exchange cooperation with their western neighbor in the economic sphere for the return of the “northern territories” to Japan.

“SP”: One gets the impression that the Japanese authorities are either setting up their society on purpose or at least doing nothing to stop the growth of such sentiments. Do you agree?

– Why should the authorities stop the growth of anti-Russian sentiments and militaristic ambitions in the country? Today, the Japanese elite, on the other hand, is interested in this. Moreover, they are encouraged by Japan’s Western partners, and besides, such sentiments are seen as a catalyst for the country’s economic and other development, its return to a big geopolitics.

“SP”: Many users agreed that it is high time for Japan to change its tactics on the issue of the “northern territories”. How can you change it? Does Tokyo have any room for maneuver at all?

– I see no reason for Japan to change its tactics on the issue of the “northern territories”. For example, Russia is not going to change its tactics with respect to Crimea – so the Kuril Islands for the Japanese leadership are also something like Crimea, albeit with much less grounds for corresponding claims. The Japanese leadership can change its tactics with respect to the “northern territories” only if it has grounds to change its attitude towards Russia, to the emergence of an urgent need for cooperation with it. But there is no such interest in Japan today.

“SP”: The reaction followed the words of Lavrov, who opposed the Japanese initiative, noting that it involves work on a different from the Russian legal system, which in turn is prohibited by the Constitution. Will we eventually be able to agree on “joint economic activity”, or is it impossible in principle, given the diametrically opposite positions of the parties?

– Lavrov has very weak instruments. Why does he appeal to Russian laws, which the Japanese side does not care about. I would have come up with some new and more weighty arguments. The appeal to the Constitution of the Russian Federation only underlines the weakness of the Russian position.

“SP”: Judging by the statements of our politicians, we no longer really count on Japan and are ready to explore the Kuril Islands ourselves. Is it so? Will it work? Will anyone else want to invest there?

– Of course, it is necessary to master the Kuril Islands, but not exactly as planned today. It is quite obvious that the current proposals for their development and the creation of an offshore zone there have a criminal underpinning for those “interest groups” who are aiming to sell the resources of the Far East to the countries of the named region. In this sense, some representatives of the Russian leadership are also interested in exaggerating the Kuril problem beyond measure. After all, this is a good sauce for robbing the Russian budget.

“SP”: Earlier it became known about the upcoming resignation of Suga, who worked for only a year. Do you think the leapfrog with the Japanese premieres will continue? When will it end, and how will relations with Russia and position on the Kuril Islands change?

– I repeat, Japan’s attitude to the Kuril problem will change only when Japan develops an interest or at least respect for Russia as a potential partner. Today there is no such interest or respect among the Japanese elites for the Russian leadership. And the constant change of prime ministers in this country is an internal problem that is not related to the issue of the “northern territories”.

– The “Kuril question”, which has not really been a question for a long time and is completely closed, serves for certain strata of Japanese society a kind of sublimation of the groundless, but still very traumatic post-imperial reflection, – I am sure Director of the Institute of Freedom, member of the Bureau of the Political Council of the Rodina party Fyodor Biryukov… – These people can be compared to the marginal Stalinists in Russia who gather in kitchens or basements and warm each other’s ears about the fact that the Soviet regime is about to return. Or Ukrainian chauvinists, from day to day awaiting the return of Crimea “back to back”. They are all distinguished by principled marginalism, a staunch denial of reality, and deep paranoia. In general, the “Kuril question” in Japan is more in the field of psychiatry than politics.

However, Japanese political circles also periodically exploit the Kuril theme. This is done to maintain the “fighting” image of politicians and to divert the attention of Japanese voters from internal problems. The scheme is classic and widely used, so there is nothing extraordinary in it. In addition, Japan, as a Far Eastern colony of the West, uses the pointless dispute over the “northern territories” as an element of the general Russophobic policy of the Western community.

For Japanese politics, the Kuril Islands serve as a way of transferring the arrows from a real geopolitical problem to an imaginary one. The real problem is the lack of state sovereignty in the former empire of the rising sun, in the subordination of its political class to the West, primarily the United States, which destroyed more than 140 thousand peaceful Japanese citizens in the fire of atomic hell. Today, official Tokyo prefers not to remember this, since relations with Washington are more important for it than the people’s historical memory. Therefore, Japanese politicians posing as radicals and raising the “Kuril issue” on the shield are in fact only conformists and collaborators.

And this is the colossal political mistake of the Japanese authorities. “Friendship” with the United States, based on blackmail and violence, brings certain economic preferences, but has a detrimental effect on the national consciousness of the Japanese. In the future, the negative effect will only intensify. But improving relations with the great neighbor Russia should be Japan’s strategic goal. But so far we can see that the Japanese authorities do not “taste” this topic in any way. However, to us, Russia, by and large it is all the same.

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