This one you probably didn't see much about in the lamestream western media, and even if you did, it probably dropped right off the radar rather quickly, and without much commentary. It seems that arrangements are being quietly put into place between Russia's giant Gazprom Bank, and the Japanese giant Japan Credit Bureau, to issue co-badged cards, and to integrate Russia into Japan's extensive network of clearing in Asia (this article shared courtesy of Mr. H.S.):
The significant aspects of the story that require some commentary are these three paragraphs:
Russian National Payment Card System (NPCS) and Japan’s largest payment system Japan Credit Bureau (JCB) have agreed to cooperate and issue co-badged cards, says a statement from the Russian company. The new card will be called Mir-JCB.
“The partnership with the Japanese payment system will provide Mir-JCB bank cards access to the infrastructure of JCB worldwide, including Asia, where JCB has traditionally been strong and had wide network of card acceptance. Co-badging the Mir-JCB card will work in the infrastructure of the Mir payment system as a Mir bank card; in the JCB infrastructure, outside of Russia, as a JCB card”, saidthe statement published Tuesday. (Emphasis in the original)
And further down the article, this:
JCB is one of the largest payment systems in the world. JCB cards are issued in 19 countries with 190 countries accepting the cards. JCB has more than 89 million clients, 20 million of whom live outside of Japan. (Emphasis added)
These developments are huge with geopolitical significance, both from the Russian and from the Japanese points of view. From the Russian point of view, recall only that I have been arguing that the BRICSA nations would have to develop their own parallel payments and clearing systems if they were to be taken seriously as competitors against the western-dominated system of payments and clearing that currently has the financial hegemon. Then came the western sanctions against Russia because of the American-sponsored coup in The Ukraine, and its ongoing aftermath. There were threats to ban Russian access to the SWIFT system in Europe, which went nowhere in a hurry, as Russia was actually granted a seat on the SWIFT board. Then Russia announced its own internal payments system, banned Visa and Mastercard from the country unless they abided by a new law that required the actual physical payments centers to be based in Russia. And, of course, we have the recent announcement from Moscow and Berlin that a new gas pipeline will be constructed in the Baltic Sea, bypassing the Ukraine, Byelo-Russia, and Poland altogether.
In short, the sanctions regime has only hastened, not retarded, the demise of the dollar-and-clearing hegemon of the West, and, if one read between the lines a bit, the European powers are mouthing subservience to London and Washington, while studiously ignoring it in practice.
Recall also that Mr. Abe's government has been pressuring the imperiel Diet to raise the constitutional ceilings on Japanese defense expenditures, effectively allowing Japan to re-arm, and assume a greater burden of the security arrangements in the western Pacific. Ostensibly this has been in response to pressures from Washington to do so. But as I have argued elsewhere, Japan is also taking a very long view, and that long view has it that, in spite of America's huge military preponderance, the days are numbered for the American empire, and in those circumstances, America will protect its own interests, and not Japan's, first. Faced with a nuclear North Korea and its insane government, Japan would simply be foolish to rely on American promises of protection, which are only as good as the firmness of whatever administration is in power in Washington. So the deal with Russia possibly heralds something else: tacit, behind-the-scenes long-term negotiations between Mr. Abe and Mr. Putin, for access to all that Russian Siberian energy, in return for Japanese funds to develop the region, and, most importantly, to offset any growing Chinese influence in the region as well. And with access to the Japanese payments system, in conjunction with Gazprom, Russia's giant energy cartel, this seems to be an interpretation of the events worth considering. One might go so far as to even assume that Japan might play a role in helping complete the new Russian space facility in eastern Siberia, or some other joint Russo-Japanese space efforts.
We can, of course, expect the usual huffing and puffing from Washington. There may even be a tactical setback or two both for Russia and Japan along the way, but in the long term those will probably come to nothing in spite of the best efforts of the west, for it is clear that Russia and Japan are two countries whose interests, in spite of a century of conflict in the region, are finally beginning to converge. Compared to the enormity of this convergence, the competing Russian and Japanese claims on the Kurile islands is a minor thing.
See you on the flip side...