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Dialogue on the peace treaty with Japan started

Why negotiations promise to be long, EastRussia explains

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced on Monday in the presence of his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono about the start of the negotiation process on the preparation of the Peace Treaty. The differences between Moscow and Tokyo are clear, and the discussion will not be easy. "We actively advocate making additional efforts to bring bilateral relations to a qualitatively new level: the level of trust, genuine partnership, including partnership in foreign policy," the Russian Foreign Minister said at the beginning of the talks. Outwardly, the atmosphere of the negotiations seemed quite tense. Suffice it to recall the mood of Kono, who thanked the Russian side for the measures taken to ensure warmer weather.

Dialogue on the peace treaty with Japan started
Photo: RIA Novosti


The positions of both sides are not sensational. They have long been known. If in official Tokyo, arguing about the Peace Treaty, imply a solution in their favor of the so-called "territorial issue", then for Moscow the very idea of ​​a treaty with Japan is a certain symbol of a qualitative change in the whole complex of Russian-Japanese relations.

The Japanese are trying to link the prospect of a Peace Treaty with the Kuriles. Russia proceeds from the fact that the islands belong to it, and this state of affairs is one of the outcomes of the Second World War.

The positions are so divergent (on the Japanese maps the Kuril Islands are marked as the territory of Japan) that a question arises as to the logic of the negotiation process itself. Nevertheless, the negotiations that began on Monday, which Mr Lavrov gave an assessment of several hours later, are quite logical.

"We drew the attention of our friends from Japan to the fact that issues of sovereignty over the islands are not discussed, this is the territory of the Russian Federation, and drew their attention to the fact that in Japanese legislation these islands are designated as" northern territories ", which, of course, is unacceptable for the Russian Federation ", - the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation noted after several hours of negotiations with Taro Kono.

The logic of the negotiation process, above all, is to help Moscow and Tokyo maintain, and, if possible, develop bilateral relations.


The current Japanese prime minister clearly wants to go down in history as a politician who has solved the "territorial" problem. He has long since gone over with President Putin "to you," and continues to argue about his interest in promoting relations between Moscow and Tokyo. Of course, to solve the "problem of the Kuril Islands". In this way, Abe presents his activities in the Russian direction of the Japanese audience. Smoothly, gradually incline Moscow to "concessions", and, in the long term, as the Japanese establishment and voters convince Abe, one can count on the "desired result." Of course, not everyone believes, but the prime minister immediately begins to argue in the sense that "not all at once." But this does not diminish the degree of criticism from their domestic political opponents.

In this regard, recent statements by Shinzo Abe on the Southern Kuriles, which caused a negative reaction in Moscow, are not accidental. The Japanese Prime Minister expressed himself in the vein that the "territorial issue" should be decided taking into account the wishes of the inhabitants of the islands.

What does Abe want? First of all, he wants to demonstrate to the Japanese audience his "effectiveness", his readiness to defend a principled position. In this regard, the biased statements of the Prime Minister are actually quite understandable on the eve of the talks.

The Japanese prime minister, who heads the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the center-right Komeito party, wants to strengthen the position of both the coalition and its own. The fact is that in the summer there will be elections for the upper house of the Japanese parliament. On the one hand, the positions of the ruling coalition are still quite convincing. At the same time, Abe wants to strengthen them, knowing full well that during the election campaign he will be asked sharp questions, the most difficult of which are relations with Russia.


Sergey Lavrov after the talks, that Moscow has enough patience for a lengthy discussion. However, he listed a number of claims. In particular, he called the outrageous statement by the Japanese side that the Peace Treaty would contribute to the containment of China.

And he also called Shibzo Abe’s statements on the Kuril Islands unacceptable.

“Regarding the question about the statement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Russian citizens will be able to stay on the islands after the islands pass under the sovereignty of Japan, we have already made the relevant statements. The Ambassador of Japan was invited to the Foreign Ministry a few days ago, immediately after the speech Prime Minister. We stated the complete unacceptability of this kind of approaches, which absolutely contradict the understandings and agreements that were reached by the leaders of Russia and Japan on how to build a further dialogue on irnomu agreement ", - Lavrov said.

The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry outlined a certain positive background for the dialogue, stating that Moscow and Tokyo could switch to a visa-free regime, starting with visa-free travels of Sakhalin and Hokkaido residents.


In a dialogue with Moscow, Shinzo Abe regards economic cooperation as a kind of advance "for future political interests," said Viktor Kuzminkov, a senior fellow at the Center for Japanese Studies at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IFES RAS).

However, according to the expert, it can be concluded that this approach does not work. "First of all, it is connected with the asymmetry of the positions and interests of the parties. The territorial issue continues to occupy a key place in Japan’s policy on the Russian direction. Even if it is not spoken out loud, there is some tacit linkage between any steps on the Russian direction and the resolution of the territorial issue on Japanese terms, "the article by V. Kuzminkov, published in the 32 edition of the collection of articles" Actual problems of modern Japan ", published by IFV, is noted.

"The fundamental difference in the views and interests of the parties, as well as the exaggerated political expectations of the Japanese side in relation to the dialogue at the highest level, significantly limited its effectiveness. The Japanese side clearly overestimated the possibilities of personal diplomacy, whose role in interstate relations is not so significant. As a result, Abe’s personal position did not lead to significant changes in Russia's position on key issues of relations with Japan, "writes Kuzminkov.



The Kremlin’s press service said that on January 22, Vladimir Putin’s talks with Shinzo Abe, who will be in Russia on a working visit, will take place in Moscow.

"It is planned to discuss the state and prospects for the development of bilateral cooperation in the political, trade, economic and humanitarian fields. In developing the agreements reached during the previous meetings in Singapore and Buenos Aires, consideration is expected of issues related to the conclusion of a peace treaty between the two countries," says the press service.

There is a certain positive background for trade and economic relations, taking into account the fact that Japan is one of Russia's main trading partners. According to the Federal Customs Service, for 11 months of last year, the volume of mutual trade between Russia and Japan amounted to 19,6 billion US dollars, which is 17,7% higher than the same period of 2017 year.

The second day of the negotiation process has begun, and as the Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Takeshi Osuga said earlier, consultations at the level of deputy foreign ministers of the two countries will be held today on the issue of a peace treaty.

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