Why is Japan's Abe Seeking Better Ties with Russia's Putin?

Discussion in 'Europe and Russia' started by Srinivas_K, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Why is Japan's Abe Seeking Better Ties with Russia's Putin?

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying hard to improve relations with Russia, a neighbor with whom Tokyo has yet to sign a peace treaty after the end of World War II.

    Abe has a variety of motivations for reaching out to Russia, which has been receptive to closer ties with Japan in some areas, but not others.

    Since taking office in December 2012 Abe has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin five times. Their latest encounter was a significant gesture by the Japanese leader.

    Abe's personal touch

    Abe added prestige to Russia's opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics by accepting Putin's invitation to attend last Friday's event in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Western leaders stayed away, in an apparent protest at Putin's human rights record.

    The Japanese prime minister earned a lunch meeting with Putin on Saturday and a commitment by the Russian president to make a rare visit to Japan in the second half of this year.

    Prime Minister Abe plans to return to Sochi for a sixth meeting with Putin in June, on the sidelines of a Group of Eight nations summit.

    Asia Society analyst Ayako Doi says one factor driving Abe closer to Russia is a worsening of Japan's relations with its two other regional neighbors: China and South Korea.

    Both nations have toughened their positions on maritime territorial disputes with Japan in recent years.

    Beijing and Seoul also have long resented what they see as Tokyo's failure to atone for wartime aggression in the first half of the 20th century.

    Seeking Russian friendship

    "There is no improvement in sight for those relationships, so Prime Minister Abe is looking to Russia as a potential bright spot in his foreign policy initiatives," Doi told VOA.

    Speaking from Washington, she said Japan also wants to stop Putin from becoming an even closer ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping and potentially supporting China's claims to Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

    Xi also attended the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony and won a meeting with his Russian host, although without the luncheon granted to Abe.

    "It almost is like Mr. Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping are both trying to get Mr. Putin in their camp," Doi said. "It is a rivalry for the love of Russia, you might say."

    Another motivation behind Japan's Russian outreach is its hope to resolve a decades-old territorial dispute that has held up the signing of a Japan-Russia peace treaty.

    Pushing for deal

    Japan has long sought to reclaim four islands off the northern coast of Hokkaido from Russia, whose then-Soviet forces captured them in 1945, days before then end of World War II

    James Schoff, an Asia analyst at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says Abe has two main reasons to be hopeful for a resolution of that dispute.

    "The fact that Japan and Russia have a dispute about these territories is acknowledged by both sides, and there is a history of negotiation between them, ever since the end of the war," Schoff said.

    He said those factors make the issue more manageable for Japan than its maritime disputes with China and South Korea.

    "In those cases, the parties still are in a situation where neither side will acknowledge that a dispute even exists," Schoff said.

    "The Koreans say Dokdo island in the Sea of Japan / East Sea is theirs and they are on it, and any claims to it by Japan are completely false and not worth entertaining. And the opposite goes for the East China Sea's Senkaku islands that the Japanese say are theirs and under their administration, while China says to Japan, you have got to acknowledge that there is a dispute over the islands [known in Chinese as Diaoyu]."

    An energy win-win

    Schoff said Japan's shutdown of its nuclear power plants after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster also has left it in greater need of fossil fuel imports, particularly natural gas from Russia.

    Moscow has a key incentive to boost its economic ties with Japan in areas such as energy.

    President Putin has made it a national priority to develop oil, gas and other resources in Russia's Far East and Siberia - economically-neglected areas where Japanese investment would be welcome.

    In a gesture to Japan, Russia held a round of peace treaty negotiations at the level of deputy foreign minister in Tokyo on January 31.

    But, there was no breakthrough. Moscow reiterated its long-held stance on the four disputed islands that it calls the Southern Kurils, saying they became Russian as a result of World War Two.

    Japan considers the islands to be its Northern Territories. No date for further talks has been set.

    President Putin also made no explicit mention of the issue in his public remarks with Abe in Sochi.

    Russia's cautious approach

    Doi said the Russian leader currently has little reason to make territorial concessions.

    "For Russia, making the Japanese hopeful about an eventual signing of a treaty is a very good thing, because it can be dangled as a prize to entice Japanese investment and other types of cooperation," she said.

    Schoff said Russia still has a motive to seek a better political alliance with Japan.

    "There is some worry in Moscow about China’s rising military budgets and military expansionist maneuvers in the maritime sphere. I think Russia likes to have friends in different places and would not mind having a stronger relationship with Japan as a counterweight in that regard," he said.

    But, Doi said, Moscow is unlikely to take Tokyo's side in the dispute with Beijing about the East China Sea.

    "Russia can see the danger in getting involved in that issue. Mr. Putin also needs Chinese investment and cooperation in all kinds of areas," she said.

    Why is Japan's Abe Seeking Better Ties with Russia's Putin?
     
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  3. Razor

    Razor CIDs from Tamilnadu Senior Member

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    Almost certainly Russia-China relations will grow stronger, especially since the West is pushing Russia away, towards the Chinese.
     
  4. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Gone are the days when Russia and West used to see each of them as enemies.
     
  5. northernarunachalpradesh

    northernarunachalpradesh Regular Member

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    but west is trying to Bullyy Russia.The game is still going on.havent u seen recent leaked tape?
     
  6. Srinivas_K

    Srinivas_K Senior Member Senior Member

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    Russia is been on the weaker side from 1990 to now. But the geopolitics of Asia are changing fast with that the threat priority of Russia.
     
  7. Razor

    Razor CIDs from Tamilnadu Senior Member

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    What are you trying to say ? Please refute the assertions rather than giving ambiguous statements. Who perceives Russia as a threat ?
    Are you denying that the West is trying to contain Russia ? (Euro Missile Defence shield, negative coverage of Sochi, constant finger pointing w/ regards to "human rights", the whole Ukrainian issue, Saudi terrorist links to Chechen terrorists, funding separatist activities through NGOs, the West's near fanatic obsession with denigrating Putin and the Russian administration, expansion of NATO and many more.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  8. northernarunachalpradesh

    northernarunachalpradesh Regular Member

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    Russians are showing tremendrous patience.they have learned some lessons dont count them down.They are in a better position than west but wating for others to bring.see how they handled georgian conflict.

    they consider ukrain as brother country .they are trying to pamper them.otherwise they would have handled US,EU in a different way.

    Tape leaks is a brilliant move on their part.a mini cold ware is going on.theydont need china suport to defend themself.they give s ---- about others when it comes to intigrity and security.
     
    Razor likes this.
  9. no smoking

    no smoking Senior Member Senior Member

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    Well, when NATO push its front to the border of Russia, Russians realized that they are sitting on the top of NATO's potential enemy list.
     
  10. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    :thumb: The above has said it all. Russia (Soviet Union) has been dangling this for decades. Dilly dally - will Tsar Putin hand the resource rich and strategically located S. Kurils over to Japan?:rofl:

    [​IMG]
     

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