The 66th meeting of "The Present and Future of Japan-Russia Relationship" Held

JFIR and its two sister organizations, the Global Forum of Japan and the Council on East Asian Community, taking advantage of an occasion of a visit to Japan of a prominent person on international and other affairs, monthly organize a "Diplomatic Roundtable" meeting, which is an informal gathering of members of the three organizations for a frank exchange of views and opinions with the visiting guest. The 66th "Diplomatic Roundtable" was held on 8th February, 2011 on the topic of "The Present and Future of Japan-Russia Relationship" An outline of the presentation by Mr. Mikhail Mikhailovich Bely, Ambassador of Russia to Japan, was as follows:

The Present situation of Japan-Russia relationship
Being a neighbor country of Japan, Russia is an important partner for Japan in various aspects such as economy, politics, security and so on. The enforcement of relationship between the two countries is not only essential for national interest of the two but also fundamental for peace and security in northeast Asia. APEC meeting held last year in Yokohama provided an important stage for President Medvedev and Prime Minister Kan to hold a discussion, which is a significant step in furthering relationship between the two countries. In addition to the bilateral talks by the leaders of the two countries, exchange of visits by high-ranking politicians such as that of Japanese Foreign Minister Maehara is also of great importance. it is To promote cooperation between Japan and Russia is also of significance with regard to addressing such issues of global concern as terrorism, WMD and situations in North Korea and Afghanistan,

Economic partnership
Since the economic crisis in 2008, a huge decrease in trade between Japan and Russia has been observed. However, thanks to the project to develop Sakhalin offshore oil and gas and the project of East Asia Siberia Pacific Pipeline, the economic cooperation has regained momentum. As a consequence, the total trade of last year exceeded 2.1 trillion yen (more than 240 billion dollars), almost twice the sum of two years ago which was 1.1 trillion yen more than 120 billion dollars). In view of the instability in Middle East, the main energy source for Japan, Russia, as the primary resource exporter for Japan, is ever more significant. The perception of Russia as an attractive investment destination held by Japanese companies such as Komatsu Ltd also serves to be indicate recovery in economic relationship between the two countries. Moreover, during the current years, Russian government has been focused on modernization of Russian economy. In face of the APEC meeting to be held in 2012 in Vladivostok, it is highly expected that the economic relationship between Japan and Russia would be further promoted.

Japan-Russia Peace Treaty
Russia and Japan have not signed a peace treaty yet. This is surely due to complicated problems concerned with politics, history and emotional discomfort. However, unfortunately this also results in profound negative impacts on various aspects. Also, it can be foreseen that large difficulties would be encountered during the process to sign such a treaty. The problem of Northern Territory which again surfaced last year proves to be extremely hard to reach a smooth resolution. In fact, to work out a satisfactory treaty to both sides requires the improvement of mutual trust. Mutual trust, on the other hand, needs promotion of positive image of the other country. To our regret, this is not yet achieved. The first step to be taken would therefore be to produce a positive domestic atmosphere for both countries. Despite the awareness of great difficulties in politics, Japan and Russia should still continue their efforts to devise a way to deal with the issue. Perhaps the first task would be economy. As Japan regards Russia as its potentially important and reliable economic partner, both sides should also devote their efforts to improve inter-government relationship from now on.


The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)