JAPAN DANCING THE SHINZO-SCHOLZ SHUFFLE TOO
Last Wednesday you'll recall I blogged about an article that had been shared by W.G., about German Chancellor Scholz's recent visit to Beijing, and what its real (business) purposes were. In short, they were about laying the long-term groundwork for a German "Reformation" and revolt from the papal authority of Swampington, DC. Well, W.G. also shared another article about the other former Axis power that is leaving the American reservation, and which isn't even pretending not to be doing so: Japan:
There are two things to notice in this article:
While Europe continues the unvarnished hypocrisy of pretending it is imposing draconian sanctions against Russian oil and gas, when instead it is merely buying the country's natural resources via such middlemen as India and China (an exercise in virtue signaling that costs it a 20% mark-up to Russian prices), less than a year since the start of the Ukraine war, some countries have had enough of pretending.
Today, the Japanese government decided to officially screw the sanctions, and remain involved in the (formerly Exxon-led) Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in Russia, as it seeks a stable supply of energy (who doesn't) despite international sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, the Nikkei reported.
ExxonMobil, which held a 30% stake in Sakhalin-1, announced in March that it would withdraw from the project. But after vacillating for more than half a year, Japan decided not to follow in Exxon's footsteps.
Meanwhile, Russia set up a new company to take over the project under a presidential decree that has in effect forced investors to choose sides. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is a stakeholder in Tokyo-based Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development -- which owns 30% of Sakhalin-1's current operator - along with other investors including Itochu, Japan Petroleum Exploration and Marubeni.
Russia has transferred operations of the Sakhalin-2 natural gas project to a new company as well. Japanese investors Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp. decided to retain their stakes in the project, and their continued investment has been approved by the Russian government.
Translation: the upcoming G-20 will be rather awkward as Japan's PM Fumio Kushida, an anchor pillar of the G7 in Asia, may decide to sit at the table next the Xi and Putin.
So what are my "two things to notice"? Well, firstly, note that Europe, while publicly Europosturing that it's all on board with Swampington's sanctions regime, is still getting its energy through middlemen India and China, which I'm sure is making fee-enriched Beijing and New Delhi happy. And while a strain on Europe's economy, it probably is a lot better - under the circumstances - than shipping its natural gas via ocean-going ships as Orange Man Bad attempted to convince Europe to do when he was still president, and not dealing (badly) with the planscamdemic.
But the second and much more important point about this article is that it confirms something I stated many years ago, when then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began conducting his careful diplomacy with Mr. Putin. At the time I pointed out that both Japan and Russia had very cogent and potent reasons to patch up their differences. Russia needs a counter-balance in the region to growing Chinese power, and geopolitically, economically, and potentially militarily, that can only be Japan. Additionally, Japan has the financial and technological resources to be an alternative source of capital and technological expertise for Russia's plans to build out Siberian infrastructure and to transform the Trans-Siberian railway into a vital Eurasian high-speed rail system. Russia, as the article makes clear, has the energy close-to-hand that Japan needs, and it is not coming through waters that China can easily interdict. For Japan, Russia is a sure source of energy that neither China nor the USSA can intedict.
So whatever the short term decisions Japan may make, rest assured, eventually its relationship with Russia will be as important to it as its relationship with the USSA is currently.
And don't be a bit surprised if, in the upcoming summit, Prime Minister Kushida is sitting with Msrs. Putin and Xi.
After all, would you want to sit next to Bai Den Jo?
See you on the flip side...
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