ARE JAPAN AND RUSSIA CLOSER TO AN AGREEMENT ON THE KURIL ISLANDS AND FORMALLY ENDING WORLD WAR TWO?

ARE JAPAN AND RUSSIA CLOSER TO AN AGREEMENT ON THE KURIL ISLANDS AND ...

Over the past few years we've been watching a delicate dance emerging between Russia, India, China, Japan, and the USA in the western Pacific, and increasingly it looks like no one there wants to dance with Obama, (after all, look where it got Merkel). The part of the dance that has most interested me is the emerging balance-of-power politics that Mr. Putin has been engaging in. On the one hand, there has been a great deal of "courting" of Beijing, in an effort to capitalize on the Chinese "silk road" project, and to spin this off into infrastructure development of Siberia's enormous resources. This has been matched by Chinese investments there to develop the energy resources of the region.

But we've also seen Mr. Putin courting Tokyo, and Tokyo responding in kind. And the interests are rather clear: Moscow needs Tokyo and its money to offset, and balance, growing Chinese influence in the region. It's a risky policy to some degree because Russia is, in effect, playing the two oriental nemeses off against each other in an effort to maintain its sovereignty over the region. It will work, but only as long as Japan remains committed to its rearmament program, which brings us to Tokyo and to Mr. Abe. Japan likewise has its own overarching interests in striking a deal with Russia, and the first of these is that it cannot allow any undue Chinese influence in Siberia any more than Russia can, and secondly, development of Russian energy resources in the region would give Japan a much more secure energy source than its current reliance on the Middle East. Energy is at the center of the "Siberian Three Power Waltz" we see taking place.

The trouble is, Japan and Russia still have not concluded any official treaty of peace ending World War Two. And at the center of this dilemma are the Kuril Islands, which the Soviet Union seized after its 1945 declaration of war on Japan, and which Japan, with one exception, has not recognized, according to this article shared by Mr. M.M.:

Vladimir Putin drops hints about a solution to the Kuril dispute

What caught my eye here were these paragraphs:

In 1956, Moscow and Tokyo reestablished diplomatic relations and said in a joint declaration that a peace treaty would be prepared. The text of the declaration to reestablish relations suggested that the USSR give Habomai and Shikotan Islands to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty. This is the document that Putin referred to at the G20 summit.

Despite the fact that in 1956 the two chambers of the Japanese Parliament ratified the declaration, the Japanese side, as was recently underlined by Putin, refused to implement it. After a diplomatic scandal in 1960, the Japanese side stated that it would “relentlessly pursue” the return of all the islands. Since then, the dialogue was interrupted.

 And then, towards the end of the article, these:

If this shift happens then there could be a number of possible solutions, says Gudev. One of them is so-called deferred sovereignty. This means that the islands would come under the jurisdiction of Japan in 50 or even 100 years. A possible option is that Japan be given only the land without the surrounding waters, the expert added.

Given the fact, that currently the Kurils make the Sea of Okhotsk an inland sea of Russia, the parties could also agree to restrict navigation in the area to Russian and Japanese ships. Russia would demand that no military infrastructure be built there. Herein lies the problem. To get the Japanese to close the U.S. military base on Okinawa is almost impossible, Asia Times military analyst Grant Newsham wrote in a column (http://atimes.com/2015/10/us-military-bases-on-okinawa-still-an-essential-deterrent/).

“Okinawa is a perfect place from which to deploy and conduct a range of military operations to counter an aggressor or someone seeking to upset long established rules regarding freedom of navigation and flight, and even international boundaries,” Newsham wrote.

A potential American desire to have a base close to Russian waters may be an obstacle in the settlement of the dispute. However, there is a possibility that the parties will announce a compromise on the Kuril Islands during the state visit of Putin to Japan in December.

Note that the implied "fly in the ointment" is the USSA and its implied desire for more military bases in the northern Pacific to encircle Russia and China. And that implies the other fly in the ointment is China itself. But for Russia and Japan, the issue needs to be resolved if Russo-Japanese plans, and Japanese investment in Siberia, is to proceed. The article hints that a compromise might be in the works by the time of Mr. Putin's visit to Japan this December. In this respect, the article mentions "deferred sovereignty" and clauses which would prohibit Japanese militarization of the islands. And this, I suspect, is what might be in the works and probably already being discussed behind closed doors.

But there's a high octane speculation to consider here: while Russia views the USSA as its principal problem, and hence, cannot view the "Pacific pivot" in any other way than an attempt to complete the "encirclement" of Russia, similarly it has to take a long range view of China's growing economic and military power. After all, the whole point of courting Tokyo is precisely to have another counterpoise to Chinese power in the region, and a counterpoise to Washington which clearly views Russia as "threat number 1 1/2." And this means that, in some sense, Russia might view Mr. Abe's rearmament program as a component of that counter-poise, and be willing - just as a very remote possibility - to include clauses in whatever settlement finally emerges over the Kuril islands a provision to allow Japanese basing on the islands either with Russian approval, or co-basing rights under a deferred sovereignty arrangement. And as the matter is ultimately a matter for Japan and Russia to settle, there's not much Washington or Beijing can do about it.

Whether this remote possibility happens or not remains to be seen, but I strongly suspect that both Russia and Japan will have to move on the issue, since not moving only plays into Beijing's and Washington's hands. This is one of those cases, however, where your guess is as good as anyone else's.

See you on the flip side...

10 thoughts on “ ARE JAPAN AND RUSSIA CLOSER TO AN AGREEMENT ON THE KURIL ISLANDS AND ...”

  1. I pretty much doubt Russia will willingly (meaning without losing a war or something of the same magnitude) give back Kurile.
    They are basically the gates to Vladivostok, the main base of Russian Pacific fleet and one of the very few ports that Russia have.

    By losing Kurile islands they will become much vulnerable when it comes to their navy (including nuclear subs) moves and protection.

    I think is more of a trick from them, to buy time.

    The most likely future scenario I see there is an alliance of China, US and Japan, intended to take the barely populated Siberia and the vast resources there. It is said for quite some time now that China, with its huge pollution problem in and around its cities and industrial areas and its ever increasing economy will need at some point to expand to give space to its population surplus. A much clean space (and water), new agriculture lands (which southern Siberia can provide, let alone it was taken by Russia from China, in XIX century) and new resources of all kind

  2. “…a provision to allow Japanese basing on the [Kuril] islands either with Russian approval, or co-basing rights…”

    I had had a ‘reverse’ scenario in mind. The Kuril Islands themselves are basically useless except for national prestige and military bases. Why not negotiate an “Okinawa” solution? Give the Japanese the islands, but ‘grandfather-in’ all the Russian bases. Indeed, this may be why Russia has recently jumped to establish a few bases there…

    Uncle Sam would hit the ceiling, but both concerned-parties could live with the deal. It would satisfy Japanese national pride, and give the Russians the ability to protect their eastern seaboard. Win-win…

  3. I suspect the countries of the region are finally looking to settle old disputes fairly. Probably want to bring a more solid peace to the region so the divide and conquer war mongers of the west will have fewer divisive issues to exploit and rub salt into. I suspect the rest of the world wants peace and sovereignty. They may not be completely against a NWO if it was more of Republic rather than a tyranny.

  4. I have heard rumours for several months that the solution to the Japanese-Russian islands dispute involves the Russians supporting the Japanese position regarding the islands that the People’s Republic of China and Japan both claim.

  5. How come everybody wants to talk to Russia, first Turkey, then the UK, and now Japan. Geopolitical games aside, the worm is turning so to speak, and Mr. Putin is the main reason why there is so much dialogue going on. Washington has in effect “CAUSED” this to happen with their stupid foreign policy which is becoming old and tired. Time will tell but something has to change in Washington, either the neocons get jailed or the military starts a coup, either scenario will be the only way you are going to change direction.

  6. Wonder if return of the Kuril Islands, even deferred, could be conditional on the closing of US bases in Japan (perhaps guises as no foreign bases)?

    Might give Japan an excuse to begin slow discussion of phasing out Okinawa.

  7. FedGov.Inc’s “Does not play well with others.” Is coming home to roost. As CAF sez, “Those who win in a rigged game. Get stoooopid.” There is evidence of a split at the top. Where the economy has been driven into a dead end alley and there are 3 flats on the car. Some Big .Incs, Casinos and the Org Crime that owns and operates them, find themselves on the downsizing chopping block..

    According to Martin Armstrong 100k bankers in the US and Euro zones have been laid off with little fan fare.

    I find it very interesting how Russia is being demonized by the MSM and how our many of our military adventures do not get reported by same. The Dog Walking Hour is upon us.

  8. Since China and Japan are neighbors they along with Russia along with Korea. Will have to settle their spheres of influence and territorial claims. As for the CSA this area in all honestly is none of their business and their continued interference means they’re running dogs of the Crown in London thought we won our independence in 1783 but did we really ever become captains of our own affairs.

  9. This reminds me of the trade and land disputes between Portugal and Castille in the mid 1400’s to 1500’s. Portugal had opened up trade with Guinea and claimed exclusive rights to this trade and all subsequent finds along the Eastern African Coast. After a war between Portugal and Castille and a few Papal Bulls, Castille agreed to exclusive rights to the Azores and gave up rights to Guinea. And then the “official” expedition of Columbus came back with news of Westerly lands full of resources and the game was on.

    Even back then treaties were put in place but never implemented. Now there is negotiation over the Kuriles and yet the Japanese terms of surrender (point 8) states:

    (8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku, and such minor islands as we determine.

    All of the other Chinese minor islands in the China sea were given to China. And now that they are utilizing their right to occupy these, the USSA is crying foul. Russia seems to understand the game much better and is negotiating with Japan for the only islands that can be interpreted outside of treaty delineations.

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