Russia continues to show Japan that it is not going to peacefully give up the disputed Kuril Islands, or at least to engage in any constructive dialogue on the issue of so-called “Northern territories,” seized from Japan after world war II.
After Putin’s visit to Japan in mid-December last year, has not yielded any practical results, the parties nevertheless continue to look for new options to continue the dialogue. However, with the Japanese side, there are proposals to Moscow on the necessity of peaceful dispute resolution, as well as new ideas for cooperation. The Russian side in response provokes the anger of its Eastern neighbor statements about the plans of the rapid militarization of the Kuril Islands.
The Kremlin also makes events and makes decisions which painful trying to hurt the national feelings of the Japanese. On 11 February, the head of the government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev gave an instruction to assign the names of five unnamed Islands in the Kuril chain. The island was named in honor of Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko signed the act of surrender of Japan in 1945, Lieutenant-General Alexei Gnecco, who led the landing of Soviet forces on the Kuril Islands, as well as the foreign Minister of the USSR Andrei Gromyko, former Governor of the Sakhalin region Igor Farkhutdinov and moreplavatelya Anna Shchetinina. The Japanese government responded with a note of protest to the act, stating that “such actions are unacceptable, they contradict the position of Japan.
According to the Professor of temple University near Tokyo James brown, the name of the first two Islands by the names of Soviet military leaders who participated in the war with Japan, is purely a political subtext. The Japanese government could not respond to this act, to avoid criticism of the efforts of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to normalize relations with Russia by the Japanese opposition.
After this incident, it’s only been ten days, and Japanese diplomats on February 23, had to prepare new protest notes to Moscow. This time the Japanese were angered by the words of the Minister of defence of Russia Sergey Shoigu, the day before declared that by the end of this year on the Kuril Islands will be deployed division of the army of the Russian Federation. “Strengthening the Russian military presence on the Kuril Islands does not match the position of the Japanese side in respect of these territories, which consists in the fact that it is primordial territory of Japan” — said in Tokyo.
However, the militarization of the Kuriles has been going for several years. In 2014, Russia declared the sea of Okhotsk, and appropriating 52 thousand square kilometers of open water, which had an international status. In the past year, Russia has placed on the disputed Islands of Kunashir and Iturup mobile anti-ship missile systems “Bal-e” (range of missiles to 300 km) and system K-300 “Bastion-P” (the range of the missiles up to 600 km). The goal of the Russian leadership to turn all the Kuril Islands (as the South, which are claimed by Japan, and Northern, mostly uninhabited) in a protective shaft for the sea of Okhotsk and Primorye territory. It is known that the Straits between the Islands are used for passage into the Pacific, Russian nuclear submarines, based in Vladivostok.
Experts from Japan and the USA, carefully watching the situation in the region, do not believe that Shoigu announced on February 22 an increase in Russian troops on the Kuril Islands will have any value or increase a direct military threat to Japan. In the Japanese media suggested that due to the limited space on the Islands and the complexity of the logistics Russia will not be able to place a full-fledged combat division of 10 thousand “bayonets”. Most likely, it will be 4-5 thousand people, which will strengthen the existing 18th machinegun and artillery division on Iturup island, and also inhabit a number of new military facilities on other small Islands.
According to recent reports, the Russian defense Ministry has a special interest in the now uninhabited island of Matua, in the middle group a Large ridge of the Kuril Islands with an area of 52 sq. km last year, a special expedition of the defense Ministry has started examining the island on which the Japanese until 1945, built a full-fledged military base with pillboxes, underground utilities, a small port, and even stout airfield, and is now able to accept aircraft. The purpose of all this massive construction is shrouded in mystery, but today Russia has made no secret of the fact that is working on turning this island into a permanent military base, with the prospect of posting here, even strategic aviation.
You should pay attention to the message that in the day when Shoigu spoke in the Duma, in Russia, it was announced that the program selection is “far acres” of land for those wishing to move from other regions no longer applies to the Kurile Islands, and have already applied are likely to be canceled. According to the map posted on the portal nadalnews.of the Russian Federation, all the Kuril Islands (related to Sakhalin region) marked as “gray zone”, i.e. the territory on which “the land cannot be granted for gratuitous use”. According to unconfirmed reports, issue areas within the southern and Northern Kuril areas could stop at the request of the Ministry of defence. This can only mean that the Agency Shoigu on the Kuril Islands becomes the absolute master.
The Minister of defense of Japan Tomomi Inada said that he will have the opportunity to discuss issues related to the buildup of Russian troops in the Kuril Islands on March 20, when Tokyo will host Russian defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In addition, the visit and the forthcoming negotiations should be considered in the context of preparing the next meeting, Abe and Putin in Moscow. Her plan for April, but Russia has already hinted that can move to may. As you know, the current Japanese Prime Minister Abe declared one of the priorities of its foreign policy, the signing of a peace Treaty between Japan and Russia.
Russian politics, in particular Putin’s press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, experts and some media angrily reacted to the protests and statements from Tokyo. Said that the deployment of Russian troops on the disputed Islands with whom they may discuss do not intend to. Repeated the words of Putin that the ownership of the Islands can not be subject to negotiations with Japan and they can’t be transferred to Japan “temporary use”, how about writing some Japanese media.
For Russia, the signing of the Treaty of peace with Japan today is not any interest, just say Russian experts — if I have to go on territorial concessions. According to opinion polls last year, 78% of Russians are of the same opinion. And only 7% are willing to cede the Islands in exchange for peace. Japanese Prime Minister have only to state with regret that for 70 years live on the Islands are Russian, not Japanese, which just expelled from their homes.
However, in Tokyo do not despair, and in response to all of the above actions continue to extend a hand of friendship. The last such act was a proposal in late February, plan for joint economic activities of Japan and Russia on the Kuril Islands. About the possibility of such cooperation was agreed by Putin and Abe, and that the Japanese side has put forward their initiatives.
In particular, the Japanese suggest that while the three areas — medicine, tourism and fishing. First, doctors working in medical universities of Hokkaido, will be able to give online consultations to physicians and patients in the Kuril Islands.
In addition, the plan of Japan includes proposal development of tourism and ecology. Private Russian and Japanese companies could arrange cruises for Japanese tourists for a number of small Islands. To land on these Islands, tourists will not. Japanese scientists are also ready to participate in maintaining the ecosystem of these Islands, together with experts from Russia.
The last point refers to the main activities of the Islands fisheries. Japan wants to offer you the organization of joint ventures for the breeding of different species of fish, as well as processing and production of seafood. Previously an obstacle to such cooperation was the fact that Russia demanded that the Japanese conduct business on the Islands under Russian law, and this meant the recognition by the Japanese of the Russian jurisdiction, to which they never agreed.
However, it is unclear how the parties will now be able to implement plans for joint peaceful use of the Islands on the background of statements and actions of the Russian MO for the militarization of the Kuril Islands and the actual withdrawal of their military from the scope of economic use of the Russian citizens. But while it is known that this plan will be the main theme of Sino-Russian negotiations at the level of Ministers of defence and foreign Affairs scheduled for March. Their results will shape the prospects for the next meeting of the leaders of the two countries.