On the Eve of War Outbreak in Ukraine: The Source of Japan’s “Gloomy Error” of Diplomacy with Russia | FRIDAY DIGITAL

On the Eve of War Outbreak in Ukraine: The Source of Japan’s “Gloomy Error” of Diplomacy with Russia

Report by military journalist Buntaro Kuroi

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The world is concerned about Russia’s threat to Ukraine.

The leaders of major countries, including the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, and others, repeatedly asked President Putin to stop military threats, but the Putin administration refused. In the future, the Russian military will first invade eastern Ukraine, but it is highly likely that it will further invade various parts of Ukraine from there. Naturally, the major Western countries have expressed strong condemnation.

What is the source of the Japanese government’s “mistake”? Now is the time to abandon vain expectations, stop the discovery process, and look at the facts. Photo: Putin and former Prime Minister Abe in a “honeymoon” style in 2016 Photo: Representative Photography/AFP/Afro

The reason for Japan’s constant weakness is the “Northern Territories.

However, only the Japanese government has avoided direct condemnation of Russia. The Kishida administration’s attitude toward Russia has always been one of weakness, and there is a reason for this. There is a reason for this: it is concerned about the negative impact on the Northern Territories issue.

For example, at the press conference following the February 17 telephone conversation between Prime Minister Kishida and President Putin, Kishida was asked by a reporter, “Have you talked about the Northern Territories? At the press conference after the phone call between Prime Minister Kishida and President Putin on February 17, Kishida responded to a question from a reporter about the way to proceed with diplomacy with Russia by saying, “We agreed that it is important to develop Japan-Russia relations in various fields. He is emphasizing the continuation of negotiations.

Reports by major Japanese media outlets have also pointed out that many in the Japanese government are of the opinion that they do not want to provoke the Russian side because the continuation of negotiations is important.

Within the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), voices began to appear around February 15, mainly in the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee, criticizing the government’s “weak-kneed diplomacy” toward Russia, but such a move is actually quite recent. For example, the resolution on the situation in Ukraine adopted by the House of Representatives on February 8 stated that it was “deeply concerned” about the tense situation, but did not include any words criticizing Russia by name. This was partly due to the wishes of the anti-US opposition parties, but the majority of the Liberal Democratic Party also avoided taking a hard line against Russia. The decision was made in consideration of the pro-Russian faction within the LDP.

When Japan’s national interests are considered, it will be important not to allow changes in the status quo by force or threats thereof in order to check China, which may embark on threats by force over the Taiwan issue and other issues in the future. In other words, even in the case of the Ukraine this time, the clear condemnation of Russia’s military threats will lead to the protection of Japan’s national interests.

On the Northern Territories, the premise in the first place is “wrong.

However, on the other hand, there is the viewpoint that “if Russia is stimulated, the return of the Northern Territories will become distant”, and if this is true, it certainly corresponds to damage to the national interest. If there is a negative impact on the realization of a part of the Japanese people’s long-cherished desire for the return of the Northern Territories, it is reasonable that there is a judgment within the Japanese government that “it would be bad to anger Russia.

However, this is based on the premise that Russia has the intention to return the territory. In reality, however, this is not the case, and it is clear that the premise was wrong in the first place.

The Japanese government has long been aware that President Putin is willing to hand over at least two islands to Japan. This is why the Abe administration changed its policy from demanding the return of all four islands to effectively demanding the return of the two islands first, with the aim of moving negotiations on the return of the territories. If President Putin had wanted to settle on the return of the two islands, negotiations on that basis should have begun immediately, but in reality, as we all know, the Japanese side’s hopes were “cruelly dashed.

Russia has no intention of returning even one island.

Some media commentary has been seen on this, such as “President Putin changed his mind because of the deterioration in US-Russian relations” or “President Putin could no longer ignore the growing number of hard-line opinions within Russia. However, this is mere “imagination” on the part of the Japanese side, and there is no evidence from the Russian government to support such a “story.

I myself have been covering and following the issue of the return of the Northern Territories for more than a quarter of a century now, since the days of the Gorbachev regime when I was living in Moscow, and my view is that ” Russia has never, not even for a millimeter, seriously considered returning or handing over the islands. However, in recent years it has become clear that Russia has no intention of handing over the two islands.

(*For my analysis that Russia had no intention to hand over the islands in the first place, please refer to this article.)

The Northern Territories: The Mystery of the Japanese Media’s Refusal to Report the Fact that Putin Never Said He Would Hand Over the Two Islands (Buntaro Kuroi) February 16, 2021

Now is the time to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and look toward the future

Since the Putin administration had no intention of handing over a single island in the first place, the Japanese government’s diplomacy with Russia, which prioritized the continuation of negotiations and continued to discourage the Russian side, was damaging Japan’s national interests. Therefore, the first thing the Japanese government should do is to admit that it was a wrong analysis to recognize the return of the two islands as realistic, reflect on the circumstances that led to the wrong analysis, and rebuild diplomacy with Russia that considers the real national interest.

The worst course of action would be to pretend that there were no mistakes in the past and to continue to pursue the wrong diplomatic policy based on the wrong analysis. I strongly urge those involved not to damage “national security” in order to protect the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “principle of not admitting mistakes” or to make discoveries for former Prime Ministers Yoshiro Mori and Shinzo Abe and other LDP bigwigs who have led diplomatic policies based on erroneous analyses.

  • Reporting and writing Fumitaro Kuroi Photo Representative photo/AFP/Afro

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