The signing key for Russian-Japanese relations of a document — a peace Treaty — can be expected in the next few years. At least, so it is possible to understand the statement made on this occasion, the Japanese Prime Minister. To make such a Treaty a reality, Tokyo should consider the extent to which — and no more — Russia is able to compromise over the South Kuril Islands.
Vladimir Putin and Shinzo Abe meet regularly — usually on the territory of Russia. Now Abe is also located in Vladivostok, it is the second consecutive year participates in the work of East economic forum. There were even talks between the two leaders, after which Japanese Prime Minister made a remarkable statement:
“The most important thing for Sino-Russian relations — the conclusion of a peace Treaty, said President Putin during his visit to Japan. This time we came to a new resolve that it is in our hands to sign a peace Treaty”.
The direct reaction of Putin to these words was not. But the press Secretary of the President, responding later to a question about the timing of the conclusion of a peace Treaty said that there can be no time limits, it is very difficult, very sensitive issue:
“Russia and Japan are making steady progress on the path of building mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation, which, of course, can not contribute to the formation of a favorable atmosphere for finding a solution for a peace Treaty. So any timelines here, but the General focus on this result”.
Neat the Kremlin’s reaction is understandable — indeed, why call a specific time frame, if nothing is decided yet.
But still — what is behind the words of the Japanese Prime Minister and what are the chances that Abe and Putin will actually be able to sign an historic agreement?
Undoubtedly, in recent years the relations between Russia and Japan significantly improved. This is particularly noticeable on the background of stagnating because of the sanctions, relations with the European Union and conflict, in fact half-relations with the United States. Shinzo Abe returned to power in late 2012 (before that, he spent years held the Premiership in 2006-2007), set to a decisive breakthrough in relations between the two countries. In fact, this is one of the most important tasks of his government.
Along with political reforms, Abe wants to strengthen the international position of their country. Hence bet on a stronger and more active foreign policy, and a desire to become more independent, less dependent on the US. Russia needs Japan and as a geopolitical counterweight to the United States and China, and as a profitable economic partner. But the development of relations between Moscow and Tokyo rests in one, but fundamentally important for the Japanese problem of “Northern territories”, that is, Islands that Tokyo considers its own.
Moscow proceeds from the fact that we have with Japan on disputed territories. The Kuril Islands were ceded to us by the end of the Second world war, so any attempt to challenge their identity is considered as an attempt of revision of results of war, that is, as absolutely unacceptable.
However, Russia admits the possibility of compromise on the basis of the Moscow Declaration of 1956, in which the leaders of the two countries have documented the possibility of transfer of Japan two Islands of the four. But only after the conclusion of a peace Treaty. For the past 60 years, the Treaty was never concluded. This prevented the United States, absolutely not interested in the normalization of relations between their geopolitical vassal and the Soviet Union.
But nothing is eternal — the Japanese have accumulated dissatisfaction with the American occupation of their territory every year more and more difficult to keep. And this is why Abe needed to settle the territorial issue with Russia — to deprive Americans of one of the levers of pressure on Japan. But do this for Abe possible?
I must say that it is, of course, is unique to Japan’s situation. In a country where it is very much a collective, collegial leadership, where a huge role played by clans and factions, and Prime Ministers are changed extremely often, this grandson of the Prime Minister and the son of the Minister of foreign Affairs has made considerable strengthening their personal leadership. He broke a number of records in total, he works as Prime Minister longer than anyone in the history of Japan, and early next year will surpass the record of continuous tenure. This is not the limit.
The fact that in the spring of this year, the ruling liberal democratic party of Japan, headed by Abe, changed its Constitution — now its Chairman, to elect three three-year terms instead of two. We are talking about the terms — and if the change was not accepted, then Abe would have had to leave the post of Prime Minister next year, before the parliamentary elections. And now a year later he is re-elected President of LDPA and if in December, 2018, the year his party will win the parliamentary elections, will lead the Cabinet until the end of 2021. Thus, Abe will have another four years.
As for Putin, although he has not yet confirmed his intention to run for election next March, there is no doubt that this will happen — and Putin’s next term will expire in the spring of 2024. By the way, strange that nobody noticed that the current statement, Abe and Putin about his plans is an indirect confirmation that Putin told Japanese Prime Minister about his participation in the elections. It is impossible to imagine the signing of a peace Treaty between the two countries until the beginning of may next year, when there will be the inauguration of the President of Russia is impossible to reach a compromise in the remaining eight months.
But is it easier to imagine the signing of a peace agreement by the end of 2021? What will change in four years, say the skeptics? Actually you can — but then a lot depends on the Japanese side, that is, personally, Shinzo Abe. If he stays in the same realist and a nationalist, what he always was, he will indeed carry out his plan to sign with Vladimir Putin a peace Treaty between two great countries.
The contract, which will settle the territorial issue between our countries — or rather, will be removed from Japanese legs hung Americans shackles of the “Northern territories”. Neither Abe nor for all sober-minded Japanese is not a secret Russia’s position. And proceeding from it it is possible to predict what the maximum concessions can go to Vladimir Putin.
Russia may agree to a joint venture with Japan control of the Shikotan and Habomai, which can be written in the peace Treaty. And after its signing and the expiration of the transition period, after receipts of Tokyo guarantees on non-deployment of military garrisons speech can go about transfer of two of these Islands to Japan.
This is the maximum that can go to Russia.
And from Japan, from strength of will and national spirit Shinzo Abe to make a reality the ceremony of signing them and Vladimir Putin of a Treaty of peace and good neighborliness between our two countries.