Japan, Russia cozy up as China dispute simmers

TOKYO —

Tokyo will play host to the foreign and defense ministers of Russia from Friday, the latest stage of a burgeoning relationship that represents a rare neighborly entente for Japan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu will meet their Japanese counterparts Fumio Kishida and Itsunori Onodera in Tokyo in a so-called “2+2”, something that Japan has only ever done before with the United States and Australia.

The visit comes after four separate summit talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the past six months, an unusual frequency for such high-level exchanges.

In their one-on-one meeting Friday, Lavrov and Kishida are expected to discuss a decades-old territorial row that has prevented the two countries ever signing a peace treaty after World War II.

The following day, the 2+2 will touch on ways to strengthen security co-operation, a Japanese foreign ministry official said.

The meeting “is expected to have an indirect, but positive impact on future talks towards a peace treaty, by building trust between the countries,” the official said.

Despite an important commercial relationship, which includes a growing trade in fossil fuels, Tokyo and Moscow remain at odds over the sovereignty of islands north of Hokkaido.

The islands, which Japan calls the Northern Territories, but Russia administers as the Southern Kurils, were occupied by Soviet troops in the dying days of World War II.

The small Japanese population was evicted and the USSR peopled the archipelago as part of a drive to consolidate control over its wild east. They remain under-developed, but harbor rich fishing reserves.

“We’ve seen President Putin’s enthusiasm toward improving ties with Japan, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Russia is ready to make a compromise on the territorial issue,” the official said.

Relatively warm relations with Russia stand in marked contrast with Japan’s ties to China and South Korea.

Tokyo is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Beijing over the ownership of a chain of islands in the East China Sea which is largely being played out by cat and mouse games between coast guards from both sides and occasional invective.

The row took a sharp turn for the worse last week when Beijing said Tokyo’s reported plan to shoot down drones encroaching on its airspace would be “an act of war”.

Japan parried with accusations that China was endangering peace in the region.

A pair of sparsely populated islets that sit between Japan and the Korean peninsula are the focus of a separate squabble between Tokyo and Seoul.

While the disputes are nominally territorial, they are fanned by unresolved historical differences and growing nationalism.

(c) 2013 AFP

  • 7

    SecularBeast

    Now awaiting the inevitable CCP backlash of whining, tantrums, and red faced party stooges bellowing 'provocation!". Good to see Russia and Japan sitting down together to resolve their differences like mature nations do, without resorting to nationalist memes and military bluster.

  • 0

    OssanAmerica

    I have to give China a standing ovation. The U.S. has been pressuring Japan to remilitarize and adopt collective defense for the last 63 years. Along comes China with it's "prepare for war" mantra and gets it moving in a year. Now Japan's fears of Chinese island appetite coincide with Russia's border concerns and they move closer than ever security wise. China without doubt is considered by the entire world as the greatest threat to regional peace.

  • -1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Dog, only the idiot crazy Japanese Right Wing would go on and start to complain about those 4 tiny islands. TPO, Time, place and Occasion, Tokyo NEEDS MOSCOW and yes, our amigos in MOSCOW must be watching all of the movement by BEIJING and thinking, hey, the Chinese are trying to out do Russia??

  • 5

    SecularBeast

    @Dog -

    The Japanese have not been running ships, aircraft, or drones into the area of the disputed islands on a daily basis, nor have they been ramping up anti-Russia rhetoric at home or constantly whining like the CCP does over the Senkakus: And the Russians haven't resoredt to whining about their defeats at Port Arthur or the Battle of Tsushima as political leverage or to stir up anti-Japanese sentiment at home.

    The Japanese have adopted a purely diplomatic approach to the issue, and haven't threatened to use it as a trading chip to force economic concessions from the Russians, nor have they refused to talk to the Russians until the islands are handed back like the CCP crybabies have or threatened to drag the region into war over it.

  • 3

    SecularBeast

    @Dog - every nation has its quotient of right-wing nutters, and the free speech afforded to citizens of democratic nations extends even to its most odious members. To portray this miniscule vocal minority as the 'voice of Japan' or the Japanese government is just plain silly.

    No protests in CCP China? Why am I not surprised?

  • 0

    Fox Cloud Lelean

    Russia and Japan taking steps to form stronger ties? Good news overall, but China is inevitably going to complain about that. China will undoubtedly accuse Russia of aggrevating the dispute, and that will only show Russia just how immature China really is. One would hope that this would as a wake up call for China to stop posturing and start being diplomatic, but that would almost certainly mean having Japan's sovereignty claim attested, and it would mean China can't go dragging up the past yet again. The past should be left where it is. Most of the people who fought in WWII are dead by now, and the one's that aren't soon will be. The people involved in this dispute are not the same as the people of WWII, but China seems to label them as such. A leopard can't change it's spots? Don't be ridiculous. People change, through social influences or through necessity. Entire nations can change as well. Britain was once a powerful empire that explored, conquered and shaped the world. Now? We don't do much of anything. We explore new ways of butchering our own language, and the only conquering we seem to be doing is in terms of the highest teen pregnancy and STD figures. We don't shape the world any more either. We seem to be getting increasingly out of shape actually.

  • -3

    OssanAmerica

    DogNov. 01, 2013 - 10:19AM JST "Elbuda MexicanoNov. 01, 2013 - 10:17AM JST "Dog, only the idiot crazy Japanese Right Wing would go on and start to complain about those 4 tiny islands.

    I've yet to hear one Japanese politiician say that the 4 tiny islands are not theirs.

    The United States, United Kingdom and the European Parliament also say those 4 islands are Japanese. The U.S. also says South Korea took Takeshima illegally.

  • -2

    Tiger_In_The_Hermitage

    China is not in a very strategic location for their safety. there are no hostile forces around America but China is surrounded by hostility. I don't blame the Chinese, given history, we tend to plunder China at any opportunity.

  • 0

    Laguna

    The one nation the CCP hates more than Japan would be Russia.

  • -7

    JohnY921

    “Japan, Russia cozy up as China dispute simmers”

    Japan cozy up to Russia. Out of fear, Japanese naval ships do not enter Russian waters near the disputed islands. Japanese naval ships enter only South Korean waters. However, Japanese complain and whine that Chinese naval ships enter Japanese waters.

  • -3

    Arthur Dumbolov

    The United States, United Kingdom and the European Parliament all say those 4 islands are Japanese Well, they always was archenemies of Russia (USSR) and glad to have diametrically different opinion on this question.

  • 1

    StormR

    Good to see the ruskies acting in a mature way and trying to work with it's neighbour , unlike that other bunch of raving lunatics ( China) trying to stir up a war

  • 0

    FernandoUchiyama

    I would like to see Japan increasing business with the Russian. Kuril islands? Oh yeah, it is important to the japanese people, but..... commoon, lets forget it for a while... lets do business, lets party together... lets do something positive.

  • -2

    OssanAmerica

    Arthur DumbolovNov. 01, 2013 - 05:34PM JST The United States, United Kingdom and the European Parliament all say those 4 islands are Japanese Well, they >always was archenemies of Russia (USSR) and glad to have diametrically different opinion on this question.

    I won't deny that. But the basis for their objection to continued Russian control over them is that the Potsdam Declaration et al specifically called for territories taken by force to be taken away from Japan. That's how Japan lost Korea, Taiwan, Spratleys, Paracels, etc.. The USSR decided that they were free to take all of the Kuriles, but the 4 disputed islands were never taken in war. They have always been Japanese under a negotiated treaty between Russia and Japan in 1855. Russia was entitled to take what they lost in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/05, but not the 4 islands that were never Russian. The USSR invaded these populated islands AFTER Japan declared it's unconditional surrender and rounded up the Japanese civilian inhabitants and deported them. So as you can see, Russia's continued "administration", ie; occupation of these 4 islands do look good at all in the eyes of the world.

    Sir_EdgarNov. 01, 2013 - 05:21PM JST Russia will never give up the Southern Kurile Islands to Japan without force. Stop acting like a WWII crybaby, Japan. >Did you forget you LOST the war?

    There is already a precedent where the USSR and Japan came close to agreeing on splitting the islands 50/50. Therefore your comment is the usual nonsense.

  • 0

    BertieWooster

    The "growing nationalism" alluded to in the last line of the article above wouldn't have anything to do with Abe's pushing to get article 9 changed in the constitution, holding massive war games, rewriting history and sending most of his cabinet to Yasukuni jinja, would it?

    Or the push on Japanese nationalism on TV and the rest of the media.

    Coincidence, surely?

    Yes, that's what I thought.

  • 0

    OssanAmerica

    BertieWooNov. 02, 2013 - 12:27AM JST The "growing nationalism" alluded to in the last line of the article above wouldn't have anything to do with Abe's >pushing to get article 9 changed in the constitution, holding massive war games, rewriting history and sending most of >his cabinet to Yasukuni jinja, would it? Or the push on Japanese nationalism on TV and the rest of the media. Coincidence, surely? Yes, that's what I thought.

    No you thought wrong. They are alluding to tjhe4 growing near out of control nationalism in the world's biggest dictatorship- China.The country that is intimidating it's neighbors and openly talking about starting a war.

    "As tensions between China and Japan escalate, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been told to prepare for war in a training directive issued by the General Staff Headquarters, which oversees the entire PLA."

    http://www.voanews.com/content/chinas-peoples-liberation-army-pla-prepare-for-war/1585348.html

  • 1

    technosphere

    The USSR invaded these populated islands AFTER Japan declared it's unconditional surrender and rounded up the Japanese civilian inhabitants and deported them. So as you can see, Russia's continued "administration", ie; occupation of these 4 islands do look good at all in the eyes of the world.

    Bud, you should learn a History of World War II much better . Japan declared an "unconditional surrender" but Commanders of Imperial Kwantung Army refused to surrender. They ordered their officers and soldiers to fight back Soviet Forces. During so-called "August offensive operations" Soviets seized Kuril islands in a battle, because Japanan solders were defending their forts and underground military installations. The overall garrison of Kuril islands was about 80 000 men. By comparison, in Iwo Jiama your "heroic 100 000 troops" fought 22 000 Japanese soldiers for many weeks. I completely understand your feelings. Every sane person see nothing special in storming forts with 22 000 men inside by 100K offensive force or, say nothing heroic in bombings of Japanese civilian population by combat nuclear devices.

    By the way, an "opinion" of the US administration and european servants of Uncle Sam concerning to Kuril Islands has no weight for Russians. The issue of "Northern Territories" is just non of your business. Russia and Japan are neighbours. They can solve their problems without "wise" advisors from overseas.

  • -1

    SamuraiBlue

    @technosphere

    For good reason I believe. The Japanese that were caught in Manchu were relocated to Siberia and held at a labor camp till the mid 50's with some being imprisoned up until the early 60's the numbers were in tens of thousands, many passing away from exposure, malnutrition, etc. doing hard labor and brainwashed.

    • Moderator

      Back on topic please.

  • -4

    OssanAmerica

    technosphereNov. 02, 2013 - 01:26PM JST "The USSR invaded these populated islands AFTER Japan declared it's unconditional surrender and rounded up the Japanese civilian inhabitants and deported them. So as you can see, Russia's continued "administration", ie; occupation of these 4 islands do look good at all in the eyes of the world."

    Bud, you should learn a History of World War II much better . Japan declared an "unconditional surrender" but >Commanders of Imperial Kwantung Army refused to surrender.

    Your argument is pointless because the Kwantung Army was not in the southern kuriles.

  • -3

    Guru29

    Good news overall, but China is inevitably going to complain about that.

    Don't see why China will get upset. If there is anyone who will get upset for closer tie between Russia and Japan, it will be Uncle Sam.

    Can't you see that there are two sides in the current cold-war? China and Russia are on the same side while the US and Japan are on the opposite side. Some of you might say the cold-war has ended, but from the cold relations between the two sides, it obviously hasn't.

    Now, is it easier for Russia to cross over to the US side or is it easier for Japan to cross over to the China/ Russia? The answer is obvious.

    But the question is how could Japan get closer to Russia when it is still a protectorate of the US? I think even if Japan gives up its claim to the Kurile islands totally, it will still be difficult but not impossible.

    On the other hand, it will be much easier for South Korea to have closer relations with Russia since it is not a protectorate of the US unlike Japan. Now that the South Korea President who refused to meet Shinzo Abe repeatedly is visiting Russia soon, Japan will become the sour grape in watching the two countries building up relations.

  • -1

    davidake

    The thought of that japan is ganging up with Russia against China is Japan's wishful thinking but the reality is opposite. Russia will never gang up with japan to against China but it may other way around, i.e. Russia may gang up with China to against ally of japan and usa if they push the missile defence system in Asia. Any body think other way is dreaming. Russia will be not a straw for japan for its failure. Japan, you have failed in Asia. That is reality.

  • 0

    jeff198527

    Japan may have lost the war, but the Allies were close to bankruptcy. By the end of the war America's debt was at 170% of GDP.

  • 0

    technosphere

    Russia and US are bitter adversaries. When it comes to choosing between them, Japan will always choose US. The Russians know that, they are not dumb.

    Do you really think, that Japan is a loyal servant of the USA?

  • 0

    Guru29

    Do you really think, that Japan is a loyal servant of the USA?

    Japan is certainly not a loyal servant of the US. But then the Japanese really have no choice as long as Japan remains a protectorate of the US.

    It seems that Obama was really upset by Shinzo Abe that he even asked his Pentagon spokesman to publicly announce that the US has no plans to defend the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands jointly with Japan around the time when the 2+2 meeting was held. This is tantamount to a slap on Japan.

    And during the 2+2 meeting, the Russian FM even advised Japan to respect its pacifist constitution and develop pacifist policies. When Japanese FM mentioned that Russia understands and respects Japan's defense policy, the Russian FM clarified that according to Russia's understanding, Japan will strictly adhere to its commitment of resolving all conflicts through peaceful conversation. This is tantamount to another slap on the Japanese expansionists.

    In short, this 2+2 meeting clearly shows us that Shinzo Abe's foreign policy is an utter failure just like his suicidal Abenomics which was designed to boost Japan's export but actually achieved the direct opposite.

  • -1

    sfjp330

    Russia should understand the Japanese, who still consider that the Russians betrayed them during World War II. They honestly did not attack Russia when Hitler's troops were near Moscow, allowing Stalin to redeploy fresh troops from the Far East. And they did not attack Russia in 1942, when Nazi troops were near the Volga and the Caucasus. Nonetheless, Russia attacked Japan in August 1945 and captured their islands. Russia is unwilling to return land which is not theirs. So what kind of allies can Russia look like after all that?

  • 1

    technosphere

    Russia should understand the Japanese, who still consider that the Russians betrayed them during World War II.

    You dare speak for Japanese people, huh? Please, study history better. Especially about Khasan and Khalkhin Gol military conflicts.

  • 0

    Jay Wilson

    Russia just wants Japan to throw away money on the islands as Moscow seems unwilling or unable to do it themselves. And since Putin said the islands are now Russia and that this will not change, he should stop begging Japan to invest in them

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