Home Contact Us  
   

East Asia: Japan, Australia and the Koreas - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5161, 1 November 2016
 
Russia-Japan: Determinants of the Territorial Settlement
Shamshad A Khan
Former Senior Researcher, Keio Research Institute, Keio University
 

Japan and Russia have prepared the grounds to resolve their territorial dispute, which has lingered since the end of World War II, without a peace treaty. President Vladimir Putin will visit Japan on 15 December 2016 for a Russia-Japan summit meeting and the territorial issue will be discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Yamaguchi, Abe’s home constituency.
 
In the past, Japan and Russia have taken various efforts to resolve this issue but no Japanese leader has sounded as confident as Prime Minister Abe regarding the resolution of the dispute. In a recent policy speech, Abe stated that he will “resolve the territorial issue,” conclude a “peace treaty” with Russia and “cultivate the major possibility of Japan-Russia cooperation in areas such as the economy and energy”. It is apparent from Abe’s remarks, during 15 recent meetings between the two leaders at different venues, that the two countries have laid down a broad framework for the resolution and a formal announcement of it is likely to be made after the summit meeting in December. 
 
The upcoming talks are taking place against the background of both countries showing some flexibility on their long-held stance on the contested territory. In 1956, Russia has offered to hand over the two smaller islands, Habomai islets and Shikotan island off-Hokkaido, to Japan while retaining the two bigger islands, Kunashiri and Etorofu. Japan’s political leadership was amenable to accept the Russian offer but following protests by a section of Japan’s domestic constituency, they pressed for the return of the four islands simultaneously. A stalemate continued between the two countries during the Cold War as both stuck to their respective demands. Since the end of the Cold War, the two countries have engaged in several rounds of inconclusive talks. 
 
In September 2016, President Putin and Prime Minister Abe agreed that the resolution should be based on the principle of ‘hiwiwake’, a term for draw in Judo. This was interpreted in Japan as dividing the contested territory into half of the total geographic area since the two islands offered to Japan constitute only 7% of the contested territory. This, however, has not been the Russian understanding. Russia states that it would hand over the two smaller islands to Japan out of ‘goodness of its heart’ but this would be conditional to the conclusion of a peace treaty. 
 
Japan has adopted a ‘two track’ approach to break this stalemate. It agrees to accept the two smaller islands from Russia and to negotiate the remaining two later. This is also an effort by the Japanese leadership to assuage the concern of its domestic constituency, especially the people who were displaced from the four islands after the Russians gained control of the territory following World War II. The displaced population from the Northern Territories (known as Kuriles Island in Russia) has been pushing governments of both countries to address their demand to go back to their “homeland”. Through a resolution, Tokyo would be able to fulfill this demand and also boost Prime Minister Abe’s and the Liberal Democratic Party’s popularity for the next elections. Japanese entrepreneurs, so far unenthusiastic to invest in Russian markets, would be keen to increase their footprints in the Russian market following a resolution.
 
A resolution is also in Russia’s interest. First, a mutually agreed settlement will ease Russian efforts to develop infrastructure on the territories. In the past Japan had objected to a Russian bid to involve South Korean and Chinese companies in the infrastructure projects; Japan argued that the territories were under its sovereignty and and forced Russia to reconsider the South Korean and Chinese participation. Second, Russia has been in search of new markets for its liquefied natural gas (LNG) following a fall in demand in the recession-hit Europe. Post-Fukushima, LNG demands have been high in Japan as most of its nuclear reactors remain dormant. Third, Russia is also trying to improve its image following the Ukrainian crisis and the annexation of Crimea. By concluding a peace treaty that includes an exchange of islands, Russia wants to soften its expansionist image and wants to show the world that it is ready to live amicably with its neighbours.
 
The discussion between Japan and Russia, scheduled in December 2016, to resolve the territorial dispute is not the first and neither will it be the last. However this time the talks are taking place at a time when a consensus has emerged among the Japanese political parties, backed by their domestic constituency, to adopt a ‘two track’ approach to resolve the dispute. This gives Japan the hope that it will get the two islands for sure. Moscow has however expressed a stiff stance on the other two islands and is unlikely to be ready to lose its hold on them. A deal would, however, ease tensions between Japan and Russia and also bring amity and peace in the region.     
 
(The contributor, until recently, was a Senior Researcher at Keio University’s Keio Research Institute)

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
 
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Indo-Pacific
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Indus-tan
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within


OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
India-Japan: Past Trends Continue

Super Majority in Japan: Implications for the Constitution

Assessing Japan-India Relations: An Indian Perspective

Japan: Revised Defence Posture

Japanís New National Security Strategy: India Factor

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.