Should we continue to drag the Japanese to our Far East or roll up our sleeves ourselves?
Frankly, I knew about the low opinion of Japanese specialists on Japanese-Russian relations regarding the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) held in Vladivostok every September before. However, being a staunch supporter of the intensive development of the Russian Far East and Siberia, he did not want to draw attention to these doubts in the Russian media.
It was obvious that the annual personal presence of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at these forums pursued not so much economic as purely political goals, namely, persuading the Russian leadership to satisfy in exchange for hypothetical assistance in the development of the eastern regions of Russia, Japanese demands for the surrender of Japan legally belonging our country of the southern Kuril Islands with the waters washing them and the richest resources.
Refrained from open criticism of the WEF and respectable Japanese publications, so as not to violate Abesan's plans. However, now that the prime minister has changed, it has become possible to talk about the meetings in Vladivostok without compliments, objectively. What the Japanese edition tried to do SankeiBiz in an article with a characteristic heading: “A Cold Look at Economic Events in the Russian Far East. Under the new cabinet, Japanese enterprises may consider economic projects in Russia less attractive. "
As the author of the article Nobuyoshi Kurokawa notes, “From the very beginning of the forums, critical voices began to be heard in Russia about the disproportionality of the results obtained from the Eastern Forums to the colossal costs that were required for their holding. In those Japanese business circles that showed interest in developing business with Russia, the opinion that "WEF is not an event that requires the presence of captains of Japanese business and heads of major Japanese corporations" quickly became stronger. "... However, Abe needed such a presence to demonstrate to Putin his ability to influence Japanese big business in terms of activating work on the Russian market, although in reality this is not the case.
Back in 1992, when the Kozyrev Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation conceived in secret from the people a shameful deal with Japan "Kurils for Investments", 20 doctors and professors - specialists in Japan - explained in an open letter to then President Boris Yeltsin:
“A deep delusion imposed on the leadership of our country by Japanese propaganda is the idea that territorial concessions or promises of concessions in the future (such as a“ five-story plan for resolving the territorial issue ”or recognition of the“ potential sovereignty of Japan ”over the disputed islands) will lead to the fact that abundant yen rains will fall on the country: Japanese banks and entrepreneurial firms do not obey Tokyo politicians and diplomats and will never undertake altruistic, charitable financial and economic operations. On the other hand, in the political world of Japan, in the event of concessions to Japanese territorial harassment, revanchist forces will surely activate, making claims not only for the four southern islands, but for all the Kuril Islands and even for southern Sakhalin. That is why making any concessions to unreasonable and illegal Japanese territorial claims is a short-sighted path. "
However, there are no prophets in their own country. Some in our country are still obsessed with the desire to receive material gratitude from the Japanese for the Russian islands. Gratitude, of course, will be, but one-off and not as large as some expect. As the influential Japanese politician told the author of this line, "We do not intend to pay much for the return of our own islands"...
Now Japanese business circles are not eager to invest in projects for the development of the Russian Far East and Siberia, considering them risky and not bringing big profits. Exceptions are made only for energy projects. Kurokawa cites the opinion of the general director of the Russian Center for the Development of Regional Policy Ilya Grashchenkov, who admitted in one of his interviews: “A large part of the agreements signed during the Eastern Economic Forums do not work. The reason for this is Western sanctions against Russia, the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the simply unprofitable projects. There were many examples when foreign, primarily Japanese, investors dodged "dangerous plans" for fear of losses "...
The impact of the costly WEF on the development of the Far East region is very limited. The article states that, “Despite the huge funds invested by the Russian government in the Far East, the economic situation in the region is far from favorable. If in the Far Eastern capital and the place where the forums are held, Vladivostok, life is still somehow adjusted, then in the surrounding territories the economy is in deep stagnation "... As an example of the dissatisfaction of the local population with their situation, "Everyone will remember the demonstrations of protest of local residents against the arrest of the former governor of the region, which lasted for several weeks in Khabarovsk."... The author quotes Associate Professor of the Federal Far Eastern University Artyom Lukin, who points out that "The real reason for the popular demonstrations in Khabarovsk lies in the deep dissatisfaction of the population with the unfavorable economic situation in the region"...
Kurokawa actually admits the failure of Abe's widely publicized promise to Putin to implement an 8-point economic development plan in Russia, admitting that this plan was a kind of bait, a method to persuade the Russian leadership to make territorial concessions. A Japanese author writes: “In the context of the search for ways to solve the territorial problem, the Japanese government in the recent past agreed with the well-known plans for the development of joint economic activities with Russia in 8 directions. However, the fact remains that these plans have not received much development. And there are doubts that the new Japanese government will retain interest in projects in the Russian Far East, including active participation in the Eastern Economic Forum "... Kurokawa cites the opinion of the same Artyom Lukin, who states: "It is becoming clear that the interest of Japanese business in the Russian Far East is dwindling."... At the same time, doubts are expressed about the fact that the new Japanese Prime Minister will take part in the next Eastern Economic Forum if it is held next year. Knowing the real attitude of Japanese business towards long-term work in Russia, it is difficult to disagree with such a forecast.
As you know, nothing happens when Japanese business is attracted to our Kuril Islands, where they are only interested in the possibility of unimpeded fishing in the Russian economic zone and ... in the territorial waters of our country (?!) Valuable fish species and other delicious seafood in large volumes. And therefore, is it not time to give up the expectation of a "Japanese uncle" who is ready to disinterestedly help develop, for the benefit of Russia and its people, the territories to which Japan annoyingly claims? The experience of building modern fish processing plants in the South Kurils with the involvement of technologies and equipment pursuing economic benefits of foreign countries is very convincing and should be continued. If Japanese producers do not want to lose profits from such cooperation, they, as has happened before, will discard the political approaches imposed on them and go into pure business with Russia. It is pertinent to recall that in the 1970s, under the conditions of the KOCOM restrictions and the height of the Cold War, Japan shared the first or second place with the FRG in the economic cooperation of the USSR with capitalist countries.
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