RUSSIA, JAPAN, AND THE KURILS: MOVING FORWARD…

Last December Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, met in Japan for the Onshen summit. It was, by any viewpoint, a significant meeting. It was the first visit by a Russian head of state and government to the island empire since the end of World War Two. Indeed, the two countries are still, technically, at war, since no peace treaty has been signed between the two countries. It was, notably, not technically a state visit, since Mr. Putin and the Japanese Emperor did not meet. It was, so to speak, all business.

The sticking point for a peace treaty has been the Russian occupation of the Kuril islands.  But Abe and Putin did something quite unique: the tabled all discussion of the political status for the Kurils in order to reach a novel economic and geopolitical approach: Russia needs Japanese finance and investment in its ambitious plans to develop Siberia, and it needs Japan to offset growing Chinese influence in Siberia. Japan, for its part, needs a more secure supply of energy, and Siberia, close to hand, would be a much more secure supply source than hauling tankers through the south China sea from the Middle East.

That at least, was my view last December, and it remains my view now. In those talks, what began to emerge was the use of the Kuril Islands as the economic zone that would be the lynchpin for this Russo-Japanese cooperation.

Now that development seems to be moving ahead in reality: it's no longer merely a matter of discussion between Mr. Abe and Mr. Putin, but is moving into the detailed planning stage according to this article from Russia's TASS:

Tokyo to draw up cooperation plans for South Kurils and heed locals’ opinions

There's much food for thought and high octane speculation here, but I want to focus on these statements:

Japan’s government is going to draw up proposals on joint economic activities in the South Kuril Islands, while taking into consideration the views of the Russians who live there, stated Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko in an exclusive interview with TASS.

He will accompany Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, during his talks with the Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for April 27.

Within the Council of Ministers, Hiroshige Seko is responsible for economic cooperation with Russia.

"Last December, he mentioned, the two leaders met in Japan and agreed to start consultations on possible cooperation in fishing, sea farming, tourism, healthcare and other fields within the framework of the ‘special system’ for the four Northern islands. In Japan, a special Council for Joint Economic Activity has been created to implement the agreement and I have been appointed its Chief Deputy. Now the ministers and bodies involved, are working to set out certain plans. I think we will be able to develop mutually beneficial projects if we efficiently use the potential of the islands, a territory with rich natural resources and geographic layout, and if we take the opinions of locals into consideration."

Lest one think this is all "wishful thinking" on Japan's part, the TASS article concludes this way: "This March, the two countries’ deputy ministers held the first consultations in Tokyo on joint economic activities for the South Kuril Islands. The two sides exchanged their proposals, and it is likely that the issue will be finalized during the upcoming meeting on April 27 between the leaders of Russia and Japan. Prime Minister Abe is putting forward the idea of carrying out cooperation projects in the South Kuril Islands within the framework of the ‘special system’ so as not to contravene the legal stances of the countries regarding the status of these territories." (emphases added)

In other words, the signals that were sent during the Onshen summit now appear to be close to finalization: Japan appears to be willing, for the foreseeable future, to drop the legal status of the Kurils in return for a joint Russo-Japanese "trade zone" consisting of the islands. In other words, the Russian and Japanese negotiating teams have worked out the details for such an arrangement and are close to a formal agreement.

So what's the high octane speculation here? With North Korea's always kooky leadership looking increasingly unstable, and America's ability to deal with it looking increasingly feeble - after all, we've been dealing with it since the Clinton administration, and nothing has changed - Tokyo is in my opinion increasingly skeptical in private about the viability of its alliance with the American empire. As I indicated during the Onshen summit, and in several interviews, Tokyo will continue to mouth public support for that alliance, and to insist that nothing will ever change. But as I've also indicated, Japanese rearmament is as much about its skepticism of America as it is about "making its contribution to the security of the Pacific rim." Hence, it needs Russia, and Russian energy, as much as Russia needs Japan, and Japanese technology, engineering, and finance.
The Kurils are to be the "trial cooperation zone" and to function as the gateway for that two-way flow of goods, expertise, services, and energy. Make no mistake, this is a long term development and relationship that is emerging between the two countries, and it will change the balance of power in the Pacific. But there is something else that might be in the making, and it is really high octane speculation, but it's worth mentioning since it would seem to fit a broader pattern: these types of economic agreements and "bi-lateral agreements" have become the modus operandi of the Shanghai Cooperation organization, otherwise known as the BRICSA bloc. And with such bilateral agreements have come something else: agreements between various Shanghai member states to trade directly in their respective national currencies and to by-pass the dollar. Indeed, India and Iran signed such a memorandum of understanding, and this, I strongly suspect, is one reason Washington has pressured India to move to a cashless system and to withdraw large denomination rupee notes. One cannot trade with Iran in Rupees, if there are no rupees to trade.
I suspect, eventually, that as the Kuril economic cooperation zone expands and trade between Russia and Japan grows, that those countries might decide to move to a similar bi-lateral currency and clearing arrangement, by-passing the dollar. If that happens, then that long term relationship will have become a strategic one. It won't happen immediately, or overnight, nor before Mr. Abe finishes his rearmament plans.
But, I strongly suspect it will eventually happen.
See you on the flip side...

 

13 thoughts on “RUSSIA, JAPAN, AND THE KURILS: MOVING FORWARD…”

  1. Yep, it sounds like the north Pacific “Hong Kong” is under weigh. I am curious whether there will be hardware buildup on those islands (i.e., a transshipment point), or only ‘trading post’ buildings where the two sides meet.

    (A little ‘placemarker’ for the future: If Russia and Japan ever get physical facilities there, I would give even odds [ha] as to whether a tsunami ‘accidentally’ occurs and takes it out…)

  2. Robert Barricklow

    Well. it’s been a least hrs since my last moderation.
    So long. in fact, that I can’t even remember one of the twelve steps to deal with my fall from grace.
    Apparently the AI, or its equivalent in human form, has acquired more code?

    1. Robert Barricklow

      As i’m on the lazy side of lazy; I did not refer to the human form as a corp flesh bot.

  3. Robert Barricklow

    This has been a continuing theme that is definitely taking shape; that of the currency wars regarding the dollar/gold. China’s top military man has written that the 1971 Nixon detachment from the gold standard was more significant than WW11!
    Thus the Shanghai Cooperative is not only gaining telling alloyed strength; while, at the same time, gaining Damocles attitude/altitude over Brzezinski’s coveted Eurasia. That and currencies that may become dusted with infinitesimal gold.
    Who knows what’s up those Bullwinkle sleeves?
    Perhaps the gold doth protest too much?

  4. Conventional geopolitical analysis seems almost pointless in a world so dominated by unseen interests and so close to economic collapse — like studying a game of Checkers (Draughts) while on the deck of the Titanic. And since I’d sooner see the world economy cease altogether than sputter until every remaining resource were exploited, I don’t view with any great pleasure this eclipsing of America’s declining empire by an ascendant BRICS block — in essence, a shifting in activity from the Titanic’s main deck to its poop deck.

  5. The Russian and Japanese have quite rightly have put aside their territorial disputes. And to concentrate on issues they can more easily negotiate with to their mutual benefit.

  6. The whole issue must be such a sore point for the Japanese (and the Germans). If the Japanese had just declared war on the Soviet Union and opened up that second front as Mr. Hitler requested (and I think anticipated), all of Siberia would be part of the Japanese empire right now and the Ural mountains would be their border with the Third Reich. What a miscalculation. In my humble estimation, the biggest Axis blunder of the war. Cost them the war in fact.

    How different life would be as I would be writing this comment in German, from somewhere inside the American sector of the German Reich, wearing a spiffy uniform no doubt and eating sausage, and griping about the out of control Japanese empire.

    1. Wait, who am I kidding? Jared Kushner or someone of his ilk will have wormed his way up to being the second-in-command to one of Joseph Goebbel’s sons in Berlin or New Berlin (New York). Or, his sister will have married whoever the head Reich Minister is. Rap music, transgenderism, and finance capital will be bigger than ever and the Reich will be taking in 3rd world refugees en masse who are escaping the evil Japanese Empire. Israel will encompass the entire Middle East thanks to the no-nonsense German military as the concentration camp model will be used down there to create lebesraum for the jewish settlers. Our favorite reality show will be about a bunch of annoying ethnically diverse kids who will ridicule everything that is traditionally German until the dominant German culture is finally replaced with something much hipper and progressive… but still fascist.

    2. USA .. United Reich of Banana Republicans and Demoncrats..
      All walking around in shiny black suits wearing skulls and crossbones.. Not the SS of course, I mean the politiciens.. in Washington and Brussels..
      We’re so lucky that the Amercians won the WW2.. so lucky that the OSS got all that war loot from Japan.. so lucky that the Nazi’s got imported en masse via Paperclip or ODESSA or the Vatican.. whatever.. they’re all the same thing. So lucky that Dulles was a Satanist.. So lucky that movie/music stars are so manically egotistical that they’d consider Thelema as a valid religion or that the Army doesnt care that a Satanist was involved with MK Ultra at Presidio Air base, whilst the staff at the daycare center at Presidio were abusing children and Aquino was very probably involved in importing heroin from Thailand in dead GI bodies.

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