Japan Still Longs for Russian Islands

Japan is ready for anything in return for the four Kurile islands

No one was expecting anything special from Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi’s visit to Moscow. No expert predicted any ground-breaking achievements that could be reached as a result of negotiations. Nothing special happened. Why did Yoriko Kawaguchi come to Moscow then?

She probably wanted to talk about Japan’s claims to four Kurile islands. Was it really necessary to travel from Tokyo to Moscow? There has been a lot said about Japan’s claims to the islands. The claims have not changed for 50 years, since WWII ended and the islands became the possessions of the USSR.

The incumbent government of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has actually ruined everything that was achieved before. There is a territorial issue in the relations between the two countries, no one denies that. However, Tokyo connects the settlement of this question with the entire complex of bilateral relations, from political to economic ones. Yet, it is more of Japan’s problem than Russia’s.

Tokyo’s hardline position regarding the islands cannot but influence economic cooperation between Russia and Japan. The potential for the development of economic cooperation is great, but no one rushes to make it grow. Of course, Russia is not against Japanese investment. However, Moscow is against the connection between investment and the islands. Tokyo thinks vice versa.

Furthermore, it seems that Tokyo has already realized that the Kurile claims are all in vain. No one in Russia will ever consider giving them back to Japan. The world is large enough for economic cooperation.

Acknowledging this is like political suicide for any Japanese government. Tokyo has become hostage of the propaganda campaign. The public opinion of Japan takes this for granted: the islands belong to Japan. There will be no progress unless something changes.

Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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