See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Opinion

Territorial clarity must emerge from Japan-Russia talks

Gains from Japan-Russia cooperation must lead to progress in territorial talks.


Written by

Updated: May 30, 2018

It is vital to squarely look at the reality in which no progress has been made in Japan-Russia territorial talks despite a political agreement earlier reached between the two nations regarding the matter. Tangible achievements should be accumulated in this respect through multifaceted efforts.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin have held talks in Moscow. Their meeting followed similar talks last November, and it was the first of its kind since Putin was reelected in the presidential election. The recent talks were the latest of a total of 21 meetings that they have held.

The two leaders agreed that private business operators engaged in such operations as the cultivation of marine products will be selected in connection with joint economic activities on the northern territories, followed by a plan to dispatch a research team there this summer. They also agreed that former island residents and others will visit graves there by plane this year, too. Such visits were realized for the first time last year.

“We have renewed our resolve to steadily advance toward a peace treaty,” the prime minister said at a joint press briefing.

The prime minister sought to draw a road map for resolving the territorial row at a summit meeting in December 2016. However, the reality is that there has been no smooth progress as desired since then.

The two nations face a stalemate regarding a “special system” on which joint economic activities will be based, because Russia has persisted in applying its domestic law to these activities. Accepting Russia’s assertion means acknowledging its sovereignty over the northern territories — something Japan cannot accept.

Apply project-based rules

The special system was proposed by Japan, which suggested creating a new scheme by studying an agreement that permits Japanese fishing operations in waters near the four islands and applying it to land-based activities. It may be advisable not to apply the system to the islands as a whole, but to consider devising a method by which the two countries would lay down a legal system regarding each project.

The current decline in U.S.-Russia relations is also throwing a shadow over the situation. Russia is wary about a situation in which U.S. forces may be stationed on the islands after the territories are returned to Japan. It is necessary for the government to convince Russia that the issue is a matter of Japanese sovereignty and gain understanding from that country.

By showing achievements that can be gained through bilateral cooperation, the prime minister must continue to persistently tell Russia that settling the territorial matter and concluding a peace treaty will benefit Russia.

Two years have passed since the prime minister proposed an eight-point economic cooperation plan, the central pillar of which would seek such goals as industrial promotion in the Russian Far East. A rehabilitation center has been completed in Vladivostok.

At the press briefing, Putin said, “Cooperation with Japan is smoothly developing.” It is important to promote confidence-building between the two nations through steady cooperation.

Russia has been subject to European and U.S. sanctions over such issues as its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Japan should urge Russia to act responsibly as a member of the international community.

North Korea’s denuclearization is an extremely important issue to Japan and Russia.

It was significant for the prime minister and Putin to agree on a policy of supporting a summit meeting between the United States and North Korea. The prime minister called on Putin for cooperation in resolving the abduction problem, and he gained understanding from the president.

Japan and Russia must continue to facilitate reciprocal communication in dealing with these issues.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Japan News
About the Author: The Japan News is published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, which boasts the largest circulation in the world.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Opinion

China says Pacific island ties no threat to any nation

Government says Xi’s visits to help improve region’s development, people’s livelihoods. China said on Tuesday its cooperation with and assistance to Pacific island countries never target a third party, and called for other countries to jointly help promote the region’s development and improve people’s livelihoods. Vice-Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang made the remark at a news briefing on President Xi Jinping’s state visits to Papua New Guinea, Brunei and the Philippines, and his attendance at the 26th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting. Xi’s visits will start on Thursday and last to Nov 21. During Xi’s stay in Papua New Guinea, he will meet with leaders of the eight Pacific island countries that have established diplomatic ties with China and deliver a speech at a group meeting with them. In the speech, Xi is expected


By China Daily
November 14, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

India watchful amid developments in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s political crisis has a regional power closely watching developments. The return of Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa to power in Sri Lanka amid political turmoil has triggered concern in India, with analysts warning it could lead to a deterioration of ties with the island nation to its south-east and increase the influence of China, already making serious inroads into South Asia. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Oct 26 and named his one-time rival as his replacement. The move plunged the country into political turmoil and a constitution


By The Straits Times
November 14, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

Report of NK’s ‘undisclosed’ missile bases not new, S. Korea says

South Korea’s presidential office on Tuesday played down a new report on North Korea’s “undisclosed” missile sites. South Korea’s government said that it’s going too far to call the North’s continued activity a “great deception” given that it has no specific agreement to dismantle or disclose the facilities mentioned in the report issued by Beyond Parallel, a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The group said it has located 13 out of an estimated 20 missile operating bases undeclared by the secretive communist regime. “The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximize the survival of its missile units from pre-emptive strikes and during wartime operations,” the report


By The Korea Herald
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

‘Forced repatriation’ to pose security risk

International crisis warns that forced repatriation of Rohingya refugees could pose serious security risks. The International Crisis Group has warned of serious security risks of “forced repatriation” of the Rohingya, just as Myanmar and Bangladesh prepare for the November 15 return of the refugees sheltered in Bangladesh. In a statement, the Brussels-based global advocacy body said Rohingyas strongly opposed the repatriation move and would do whatever they can to resist it. “This [forced repatriation] will increase tension in the camps and could lead to confrontations between refugees and Bangladesh security forces and greatly complicate humanitarian operations. “A botched repatriation attempt could potentially set back peace and development efforts by years,” said the statement released yesterday. It comes two weeks after Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to begin the repatriation


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty honour

The Amnesty International has stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the latest of several honours taken away from her since last year’s brutal military crackdown on the Rohingyas. This is the eighth honour that the former Nobel peace prizewinner has been stripped of over the past year, with Amnesty following the example of Canada, US Holocaust Museum, UK’s Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle and Canada’s Carleton Universities which also revoked Suu Kyi’s honorary degrees and awards. The long-celebrated Nobel Laureate was given Amnesty’s most prestigious honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of her arrest and 20 years since it declared her a prisoner of conscience. The AI yesterday announced withdrawal of its highest honour fr


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Diplomacy, Opinion

Kim Jong-un’s Seoul visit unlikely this year: experts

Stalled talks between Pyongyang and Washington likely cause for deceleration of diplomacy. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit to Seoul appears to be less likely to take place this year without more progress in stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington, experts said Sunday. South Korea’s Moon Jae-in administration is pushing to hold the fourth inter-Korean summit between Moon and Kim in Seoul within the year, in the hope of facilitating a breakthrough in the deadlocked US-North Korea talks. One of the unexpected achievements from the third summit, which was held in September in Pyongyang, was the North Korean leader’s promise to visit Seoul within the year. President Moon said at his speech at the National Assembly earlier this month that Kim’s visit to Seoul will take place in the near future. Unification Minister Cho Myong-gyon said Friday at a parliamentary se


By Cod Satrusayang
November 12, 2018