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For the emergence of large-scale Japanese investments in the Far East to give the Kuril Islands of Japan is not necessarily

Russia’s international activities have recently been marked by a striking event - Vladimir Putin met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Russia on a visit at his invitation. At the meeting there were positive statements and mutual disposition of the two leaders. But, meanwhile, neither progress on the territorial issue, nor economic agreements could be reached.

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Valery Kistanov

Head of the Center for Japanese Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies
During the meeting, the issue of the Kuril Islands was raised in a constructive manner and it was decided to continue interaction on it at the level of the foreign ministries. At the same time, the Japanese media are now clarifying that at the meeting Shinzo Abe announced that, for its part, Tokyo will continue to try to resolve the issue of the Kuril Islands. In addition, the Japanese Prime Minister proposed to Putin a plan for economic cooperation between the two countries. This plan, consisting of eight points, is primarily aimed at the innovative development of Russia. In particular, it involves the construction of plants for the processing of liquefied gas, air harbors, ports, healthcare facilities and other infrastructure. First of all, according to the plan, the work is planned to be carried out in the Far East.

“As a result of the last meeting, no breakthroughs in the development of Russian-Japanese relations occurred. There were good intonations, a mood for a positive dialogue and, what can be considered the main success of this meeting, the achievement of agreements on future negotiations, "said Valery Kistanov, head of the Center for Japanese Studies at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that it is not clear what is the basis of Shinzo Abe's statement that he had a feeling of confidence in a close breakthrough in relations between Russia and Japan. Indeed, as a result of the meeting, the positions of the countries on the territorial issue have not changed. Russia continues to insist that the southern islands belong to it following the results of the Second World War on fully justified legal grounds. Just like Japan did not refuse to claim these islands. The Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers Yoshihide Suga made a public statement in the country on the preservation of Japan's position on the territorial issue upon the return of Shinzo Abe. According to him, Japan will continue to demand the return of all four Kuril Islands.
“But it should be noted that as such, the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe means that Russia today is not isolated on the international arena - it has had a kind of breakthrough in the surrounding ring of sanctions, which is now actively being created by the West,” explained Valery Kistanov.

The initiative on economic interaction with Russia voiced by Abe at a meeting in Sochi, in his opinion, shows the world community that Japan, despite the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, does not refuse to cooperate with Russia and, moreover, offers it itself. Not so deep and extended, and, rather, is a continuation of the already existing interaction, but, nevertheless, it offers. At the same time, with its proposal for an economic plan, Japan to a certain extent compensates for the sanctions that it, along with other countries, imposes on Russia. Although here Tokyo also has its own interest - to make Russia more pliable in terms of resolving the territorial issue.

At the same time, Kistanov noted that, while Russia is in some kind of isolation in the West, Japan is in a similar position in Northeast Asia. Its only ally now is the United States, which are located at a considerable distance from it. And the countries of Northeast Asia, primarily China and South Korea, are not disposed today to discuss territorial problems with Japan. And the fact that Putin is ready for such negotiations is an opportunity for Japan to demonstrate to them the possibility of such a discussion.

According to the expert, the meeting between Abe and Putin is also significant from the point of view of Japan's domestic policy. In Japan, the economic policy pursued by the Shinzo Abe government, the so-called abenomics, is now beginning to "stall", which causes great discontent in the Japanese society. Therefore, Shinzo Abe needs to demonstrate his own success in the international arena. This is what he is trying to achieve, including by stepping up relations with Russia.

“Japan's proposal for a plan for economic cooperation with Russia appears to be nothing more than its attempt to create a favorable environment for the settlement of the territorial conflict and the conclusion of a peace treaty. Thus, she draws Russia's attention to the fact that the solution of these issues is possible in parallel with the advancement in economic cooperation. This is obvious, despite Japan's assurances that the economic proposal it voiced has nothing to do with the political differences with Russia, ”Valery Kistanov explained.

At the same time, he emphasized the fact that with a closer look at the plan proposed to Russia by Japan, it does not contain any fundamentally new and important initiatives. Since cooperation in the field of energy and port infrastructure between Russia and Japan has existed for a long time, and the creation of an insignificant number of healthcare facilities will not be of great importance for the development of this sphere in Russia, and, in particular, in the Far East. At the same time, a similar plan was already proposed by Shinzo Abe in 2007 to Putin - at a meeting held then on the sidelines of the G8 summit in the German city of Heiligendam, he announced an initiative for the development of the Russian Far East, which also contained XNUMX points. Thus, according to Valery Kistanov, the plan proposed to Putin at the last meeting of Shinzo Abe is for the most part a new form of the initiative he had already voiced earlier.

“It is hard to believe that in the near future Russia and Japan will have a breakthrough in resolving the territorial issue. Since neither of the parties is ready to make any concessions within the framework of it. But, despite this, talks about the territorial problem between the countries will continue. This is evidenced by the fact that in June a meeting will be held between the deputy foreign ministers of both countries. If we talk about the prospects for economic cooperation, then its progress depends not on the territorial problem, but on how the Russian economy, which is now in a difficult state, will change. In order for Japanese investments to begin to flow in large volumes, for example, to the same Far East, it is absolutely not necessary to give the Kuril Islands to Japan. For this, it is necessary to create a favorable investment climate in this macro-region - in particular, develop a variety of infrastructure (including transport and financial), reduce administrative barriers and the level of corruption. It is also necessary to ensure that the Russian legislation is not so often subjected to all sorts of changes and is as clear as possible for the Japanese, ”concluded Valery Kistanov.
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