As you can tell, many of the articles I received the previous week from readers of this website were about geopolitics, and that's true of today's short article from Sputnik about Taro Kono, former Japanese Foreign, and Defense, Minister:
As noted in the article, Kono stands a good chance to end up as the leader of Japan's Liberal Democrat party, and hence, stands a good chance of ending up as the next Japanese prime minister. What's significant about this is that Mr. Kono appears to have made it a priority to conclude a formal peace treaty with Russia and to reach some sort of formal understanding of the Russian portion of the island of Hokaido(Sakhalin) seized and occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War Two. It might be recalled that the Soviet Union and Japan were not at war until the very final weeks of the Pacific War when Stalin finally declared war on Japan, and invaded Japanese occupied Manchuria and Hokaido/Sakhalin Island.
This territory has thus been the sticking point between the two countries keeping them from concluding a formal peace since World War Two. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was able to conclude some trade deals with Mr. Putin by simply by-passing the issue, though it might be recalled that both leaders effectively agreed to make the Russian portion of Hokaido/Sakhalin a free-trade zone, and travel restrictions to Japanese citizens were lifted.
Perhaps Mr. Kono has just signaled his willingness to formalize these provisions, perhaps not. They have been in place since Mr. Putin and Mr. Abe agreed to them, and thus far, I'm not aware of any incidents or complaints by either party, which suggests that those agreements may have been a "trial run" to see how they worked before being formalized.
As I've pointed out many times before on this website when dealing with this topic is that what is certain is that both Russia and Japan need to conclude a formal peace for the simple reason that they both need further deals. Russia wants to build out its Siberian infrastructure to make its abundant resources a more integral part of the Russian, and Eurasian, economy. High speed rail upgrades to the Trans-Siberian railroad, and the capital to do it, are both essential to Russia for that project to succeed. The problem for Russia has been and continues to be its reliance on China both for the high speed rail technology and the capital to do it. China is at best a problematic ally for Russia. And you'll notice, the Trans-Siberian continues to lumber on without Chinese investment or high speed rail technology.
Enter Japan: Japan of course has the high speed rail technology, and it also has the capital. What it does not have is a secure supply of energy and food resources, with much of its energy coming through waters easily interdictable by Communist China. What Russia does have is abundant energy, right next door, so to speak, to Japan.
In short, the two countries need each other, and Mr. Kono has just signaled that a formal peace with Russia would be a high priority for any government that he might head. And trade deals with Russia could go a long way to revive the moribund Japanese economy.
In addition, with the Afghanistan fiasco and America's geopolitical decline, the geopolitical circumstances have changed dramatically since Mr. Abe's occupancy of the Japanese premiership. All of this signals that Mr. Kono might be successful where his predecessors were not. But in any case, over the next couple of years, watch Japan...
See you on the flip side...