The 213th Meeting of "Foreign Policy Briefing"
on "Current Situation in Russia and Perspectives on Japan-Russia Relations" Held

JFIR monthly organizes a "Foreign Policy Briefing" meeting, former "Foreign Policy Breakfast" meeting renamed, to provide an occasion for members of JFIR to meet in an informal and confidential manner with senior officials of the Japanese Government and/or other experts and specialists in fields related to international relations. The 213th "Foreign Policy Briefing" meeting on the topic of "Current Situation in Russia and Perspectives on Japan-Russia Relations" was held on 9 April 2009. Mr. TANIZAKI Yasuaki, Director-General of European Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, presented his views as follows.

The Russian economy is most seriously damaged by the global financial crisis although it enjoyed the rapid growth during the era of Putin administration. Russia's economic structure has been so fragile due to such problems as its excessuive dependency on energy and its declining population. There is also a growing concern about protectionism in Russia. Russian economy will continue to face severe economic and financial difficulties for several years. The domestic political situation in Russia is often referred to as "tandem system" of President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. Both of them have been working together closely under the division of labor. However, it should be noted that there is potential tension between supporters of Medvedev and Putin and some discord in economic policies is coming up to the surface. U.S.-Russia relations, although it was uncomfortable under Bush administration of the U.S., has been improving since the birth of Obama administration.

As for Japan-Russia relations, we need to take into consideration how Russia is seeing the Asia-Pacific region. Russia has started to bolster its relationship with the Asia-Pacific region because the major source of energy supply has to be inevitably shifted from Wetern Siberia to Eastern Siberia. However, to that end, Russia needs financial and technological cooperation from Japan. We think it is basically desirable that Russia is interested in the Asia-Pacific region. We hope that Russia is positioned as a player in this region and that interdependence can be further deepened between Japan and Russia. On peace treaty negotiation, Japan and Russia confirmed their basic understanding on the occasion of the G8 Hokkaido-Toyako Summit in 2008. Prime Minister Aso explained the Japanese views in details to President Medvedev at the summit meeting in Sakhalin in February of this year. Japan has requested Russia to present its views on peace treaty negotiation at the next summit meeting.


The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)