A conversation with experts about the results of the meeting of heads of Russia and Japan

The results of the meeting of President Putin and Prime Minister Abe, and the future problem of “Northern territories” we talked with experts from Russia and Japan who are well versed in Russian-Japanese relations.

Ways of solving the territorial problem is not found: Professor of the Slavic research Center of Hokkaido University Iwashita Akihiro (Akihiro Iwashita)

During this summit the leaders of Russia and Japan agreed to provide direct flights to those who previously lived on the Islands, to visit the graves of their ancestors, and also of sending to the Southern Kuriles group of officials and businessmen to assess the prospects for joint economic activities. However, the impression that this is just a logical continuation of top-level talks held in December last year. The parties were unable to offer any solution to the territorial problem. This is just a demonstration of the fact that Russian-Japanese relations.

Most likely the Japanese authorities wanted to show people tangible results: the creation of direct flights to visit the graves. However, many of the graves are located far from the airports of Kunashir and Shikotan. Entry procedures have not been simplified: preserved passport and customs check. It will not bring relief to the indigenous inhabitants of the Islands.

Near the Islands of Habomai will build more checkpoints, but they will be intended only for those who visit the graves. It is assumed that a group of officials and businessmen will travel to the Islands in the framework of a visa-free exchange. That is, the agreement on creation of the new structure was not reached.

During a press conference after the talks, President Putin spoke mostly about the economy. The problem of signing a peace Treaty he has touched only once. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that he spoke on behalf of the former residents of the Islands about their homesickness. However, the true desire is to return the Islands. If there is no progress on the territorial issue, Japan has no results.

Closer relationship: Professor at MGIMO-University Dmitry Streltsov

The leaders of Russia and Japan elaborated on the outcomes of the meeting held in December last year. I think that was an important step towards ensuring that relations between our countries have become closer. I think Japanese public opinion reacted positively to the assessment of the prospects of joint economic activities on the “Northern territories” and the establishment of air service to visit the graves of former residents of the Islands.

As the joint economic activity will create new jobs for Russians living on the Islands, and improve conditions for life, most likely, people will be glad of any project. For example, you can develop projects in the field of fishing industry and tourism. Even if at first the results will be modest, it is important to show how the Japanese and Russians the results of successful cooperation between Japan and Russia.

However, in the course of the meeting the parties discussed in detail the issue of concluding a peace agreement, despite the fact that it is more concerned of the Japanese side. Perhaps joint business activities will increase the credibility of Japan’s four Northern Islands and indirectly create a favorable atmosphere for Russian-Japanese talks, but this does not mean that it will contribute to the settlement of the territorial problem. In the end, it all depends on the political decisions of the leaders of the two countries.