Jun 8, 2022
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Moscow suspends Japanese fishing in Russian territorial waters

The Japanese media are storming about Russia’s suspension of the 1998 Fisheries Agreement with Japan. Japan’s business newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun sees Moscow’s move as a harsh reaction to Tokyo’s anti-Russian sanctions.

According to the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, for the time being we are talking about “suspension” of the agreement under the pretext of “freezing” by the Japanese the stipulated payments and delaying the signing of annual executive documents, which are an integral element in ensuring the functioning of this intergovernmental agreement. That is, the reason for the suspension is allegedly technical. It is explained that the Russian side was forced to suspend the implementation of the Agreement until Japan pays its obligations in full.

However, Japan understands that such a decision is a response to the “hellish sanctions” imposed on Russia, unprecedented in the history of relations between the two countries. The delay in payments is just a reason to seriously warn Tokyo that Japan’s hostile policy towards Russia may lead to a revision of the entire range of fishing agreements existing between the two countries not in favor of the Land of the Rising Sun. Especially when it comes to fishing in Russian waters.

Fishing circles and the public in Russia, especially in the Far East, have long been demanding not the “suspension” of the illegal 1998 Agreement, but its cancellationwhich is provided for in this document. Illegal because the Yeltsin government, when concluding the “agreement”, violated the Constitution of the Russian Federation and related legislation prohibiting foreigners from fishing and other seafood in the territorial waters of Russia. This was admitted by one of the “architects” of this agreement, the former Russian ambassador to Japan Alexander Panov. We recall his comment: “The Japanese do not directly recognize Russia’s sovereignty over the Kuriles and therefore may demand special economic zones with their own rules. It is quite possible. Without losing face, both sides can agree to such economic cooperation… We did about the same thing when we agreed on the so-called Japanese fishing near these islands. Then Russia actually went for a change (read: violation. – A.K.) of their legislation, although it was not advertised that Japanese fishermen could fish in the territorial waters of these islands. No state actually permits fishing in its territorial waters.” (underlined by us. – A.K.)

The agreement not only violates Russian laws, but is also unequal, it does not respect the principle of reciprocity: Russian fishermen are not allowed to fish in Japanese waters, as the Japanese are in ours. In this agreement, the Yeltsin government actually agreed with the Japanese claims to the Russian southern Kuriles, without a word indicating that the waters in which the Japanese fishermen are fishing are the waters of Russia. Former Deputy Minister of Fisheries of the USSR Vyacheslav Zilanov writes: “Japanese fishermen will fish on a private basis not in the territorial waters of Russia, but in a nameless, supposedly owned by no one “sea area”, about whose nationality not a word is said …

In the main document – the Agreement itself – there is not a single word about the control over the conduct of fishing by Japanese vessels by our fisheries protection authorities and border guards, as well as nothing is said about the observance by Japanese fishermen of our laws and regulations.

In fact, we are dealing with an unprecedented case – and this should be emphasized – the provision of Japanese citizens in our territorial waters extraterritorial status, that is, their insubordination, non-judgment of their jurisdiction to the laws of the Russian Federation in its territorial sea, a status that, from the point of view of modern international law, is discriminatory and inadmissible in relations between states.

In Japan, the signing of the 1998 Agreement was considered a major victory, a significant advance on the path to persuading Moscow to recognize the South Kuril Islands and the waters surrounding them as Japanese. It’s not hidden. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun writes: “For the fishermen of Hokkaido, located in close proximity to the northern islands, fishing in their waters rich in fish and seafood is very important. The Japanese government, which considers the northern islands to be Japanese territory, regards fishing around them as “an activity beneficial to the interests of the country” and supports it by providing fishermen with government subsidies. Of course, in this policy of the government there was an expectation that “safe fishing” in the waters of the northern islands would serve as a kind of “stepping stone” for Japan in the final resolution of the territorial problem with Russia”.

Isn’t it time to knock this “step” out from under the feet of the Japanese revenge-seekers? Or will the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, having received the money that Zakharova speaks of, continue the illegal practice of catching our fish in our waters, without recognizing them as Russian?

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun warns: “The statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry does not affect the Ukrainian issue in any way. However, experts and analysts believe that behind this decision of the Russian authorities is Moscow’s sharp reaction to the anti-Russian sanctions adopted by Japan in connection with the Russian military special operation in Ukraine. In connection with this, Japanese political circles expect further cooling of Japanese-Russian relations..

Commenting on Moscow’s decision to suspend the 1998 Agreement, the Japanese place the responsibility for the “cooling of Japanese-Russian relations” entirely on their government.

Here are some of their comments in translation InoSMI:

fuguetu1967 That’s the whole result of our worthless diplomacy. To be honest, I thought that Russia would gather its thoughts earlier. And then she lingered a bit. But still performed!

hit the jackpot And what could be expected if we got into this Ukrainian conflict ourselves?! Here we got it!

pudding__2017 Terrible! Again there will be these arrests and detentions of our fishermen by Russian border guards and fish protection. And after all, as previous experience shows, including on Senkaku, no one will protect us.

Momojuku Here is distant Russia for you! And how close she came to our interests!

kwangsan Well, wait? Now crabs and caviar of sea urchins will definitely rise in price!

Oneofunverses Of course, the Russian special operation in Ukraine is bad. But now the price of fish is going up a lot!

tz6uVdNI3yN2YQS In order for our poor fishermen to avoid claims, and even more so persecution by the Russian authorities, it is better for us to strictly comply with all the conditions of agreements with them on quotas, fishing periods, and also on compensation payments.

gWw98OTGauwxjGk Bad business! There are fewer fish now! Our poor biscuits and snack bars with fried octopuses (takoyaki). What will happen to them now?

whistleton And all this is our stupid gloomy government!

2018_APC All this is happening because our government does nothing and only spits at the ceiling!

sake_zako Well, now it remains to wait that, as in the past, our fishermen will be shot from machine guns!

Rikijos We ourselves are to blame! This is the failure of our ruling party!

On our own behalf, we add that Japan is on the eve of parliamentary elections to the upper house of advisers, which will be held in July. What impact the thoughtless “sanctions policy” of the Kishida cabinet with respect to a neighbor to the north will have will be shown by the will of the Japanese, who warned politicians not to go too far in relations with Moscow.


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