politics

Abe promises Japanese support for U.S. in Ukraine crisis

43 Comments

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday assured President Barack Obama that Tokyo would back US efforts to address the Ukraine crisis after Washington lined up sanctions on Russia, an official said.

The pair held telephone talks in which Obama "explained the stance of the U.S. government in the Ukraine situation", Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government's top spokesman, told reporters in Tokyo.

"Prime Minister Abe said that Japan will support President Obama's efforts and hopes for quick progress in the Ukraine situation," Suga added.

"The two sides agreed that Japan and the United States will continue to maintain close communications, while agreeing on the significance of respecting Ukraine's sovereignty."

Criticism of Moscow is a difficult balancing act for Abe as he moves to resolve a decades-long territorial dispute with Russia and build economic ties.

The United States on Thursday imposed visa bans and set the stage for wider sanctions against Russia, warning any move to split the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine would break international law.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida separately said Friday that Tokyo would consider extending financial assistance to cash-strapped Ukraine via the International Monetary Fund, Kyodo News agency reported.

Asked if Japan would impose sanctions on Russia, Kishida did not give a definitive answer, the agency added.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
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Why doesn't he support directly Ukraine? He's acting like a little yapping dog towards USA. Why does USA have a "Ukraine problem".

16 ( +20 / -4 )

What? Write another check?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Abe’s firm supportive voice is definitely appreciated by Washington and the west in terms of putting a united front to respond to Russia’s encroachment in Crimea.

In contrast with Chinese tight-lipped mum during the call between Putin and Xi last Tue, Japan’s stance is much aligned with the US. (That is an ally should do during trying times.)

Hopefully, Japan will stick with the principle, standing on the ground firm and doing whatever it takes against the aggressor with the rest of allies.

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Criticism of Moscow is a difficult balancing act for Abe as he moves to resolve a decades-long territorial dispute with Russia and build economic ties.

Huh? How at all can the decision here be "difficult"? Japan accuses Russia of illegally seizing the four islands after WW II. So how can they not stand up for Ukraine when Russia does the same thing here? Russia is a bully and Japan showing weakness here will not make them any easier to deal with.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Abe knows what Japan needs to do but he will hesitate until China responds because he is afraid to lose the upper hand to China. I don't think he cares 2 hoots about Ukraine,unlike the US!

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Ethan Wilbur, that may or may not be what allies do, but Japan is sacrificing its long-term geopolitical interests for it again, which is not very favorable.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What a pathetic lapdog response, at least what I am reading here. Somebody hand Abe some tissue so he can wipe that brown smudge off, geez!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

“Prime Minister Abe said that Japan will support President Obama’s efforts and hopes for quick progress in the Ukraine situation,” Suga added. "Asked if Japan would impose sanctions on Russia, Kishida did not give a definitive answer, the agency added". One would think that if you are going to give support then you would do the same as those you are supporting, at least in some effort.

From a different site-->"China, often a Russian ally in blocking Western moves in the U.N. Security Council, was more cautious, saying economic sanctions were not the best way to solve the crisis and avoiding comment on the Crimean referendum." What other option is there? Nobody wants a violent confrontation? Russia is already there.....are they going to talk about it for the next two decades?

A Kremlin aide said Moscow might refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks, the top four of which have around $24 billion in exposure to Russia.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said no one in the civilized world would recognize the result of the "so-called referendum" in Crimea.

He repeated Kiev's willingness to negotiate with Russia if Moscow pulls its additional troops out of Crimea and said he had requested a telephone call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

But Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov ridiculed calls for Russia to join an international "contact group" with Ukraine proposed by the West, saying they "make us smile".

From all I have read in the last few days... Putin whole heartedly believes he is right & is not going to back down. Now many other nations are getting to experience the type of nonsense Japan has had to deal with when it comes to negotiating with Russia.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki, "that may or may not be what allies do, but Japan is sacrificing its long-term geopolitical interests for it again, which is not very favorable."

Okay, fair enough.

Since you are talking about sacrifices, let me ask you a couple of simple questions: Have American troops protected and shielded Japan for 69 years from any potential threats? Have Americans sacrificed enough by putting their hard earned tax dollars to work, creating a secured environment for Japan to pursue prosperity and grow economy with low payment for defense spending?

No country on the earth can have everything it desires. I am assuming that you’d be able to see Americans’ points.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

As is often preached by members of the JT community whenever Japan is embroiled in political tensions with another country, the US and Russia need to "grow up", as if such haughty comments provide any value.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

He can give them loan guarantees backed by BOJ worthless bonds...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

@EthanWilber

Since you are talking about sacrifices, let me ask you a couple of simple questions: Have American troops protected and shielded Japan for 69 years from any potential threats? Have Americans sacrificed enough by putting their hard earned tax dollars to work, creating a secured environment for Japan to pursue prosperity and grow economy with low payment for defense spending?

No country on the earth can have everything it desires. I am assuming that you’d be able to see Americans’ points.

All right. You see, this is the main thought pattern (along with the colder thought of abandonment) that causes the Japanese, to over the years, throw away quite a lot. But:

1) America bases troops in other nations for its own geopolitical interests, so let's not be pretending America is getting nothing out of the deal.

2) Beyond that, America gets a lot of small advantages from making most of the Western world, in effect, its protectorates. Think about every time Japan concedes something to America, or when the West as a whole puts up with the US snooping with only pro forma protests ... at the very bottom of all that tolerance is America's military power (because economically America doesn't have quite as much advantage). America has been a relatively good "suzerain", but suzerain it is and benefits it does gain.

3) When you ally with someone, you agree that their interests are your interests. In this sense, to the extent that a favorable geopolitical regime in East Asia is favorable to America, America is also shooting itself in the foot. Its support of Ukraine is merely moral and poking an eye in someone elses' backyard. If Crimea becomes a part of Russia, the US doesn't actually get hurt. It also doesn't help that while Y-something (guy who got ousted) is no saint, neither are the opposition that's in temporary charge, and they hardly won by an entirely peaceful protest (the Russian occupation of the Crimea is AFAIK very peaceful compared to the riots that ousted Y-something).

The geopolitical regime in Asia, is of course, critical to Japan. Given Japan's financial state, and just as important, its unwillingness to spend a lot on defense, a favorable geopolitical regime is a must and even with American support Japan cannot really afford the "luxury" of being unfriendly with China and Russia at the same time unless at least one of them is almost completely powerless which is not true. So basically America is pressuring Japan to hurt a vital interest for a very peripheral one of America's (really, all it is buying America is the nice name of "unity of response among Western nations", and this is not a pure advantage b/c now you can't even play 'Good Cop, Bad Cop'), and in doing so is also hurting itself.

Is that what an ally does?

10 ( +11 / -1 )

I'll bet neither Abe nor Obama, nor any of the busybodies in either governments could find the Ukraine on a map.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Dumb...Russia isn't too far away from Japan, Abe. He should be playing this more neutral and ambiguous. US can afford to bluster, but Japan can and should not.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Abe has no choice, it's controlled by US since WWll until they have the nerve to say, "NO."

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Abe just recognized Obama's efforts for Ukrainian orange revolution but he didn't make any commitment in concrete terms, though Obama expects Japan to help put the Ukrainian finances in order. Not sure who pulls the strings, but Putin seems to be a cut above the State Department staff and Merkel. Japan better watch as a worried spectator while tightening its purse strings.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Oh what a shock! Abe realising that he needs the US... Bet he feels like a fool being the only one that headed to Sochi. If not, he should.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

A samurai bows to a victor but does not make friends. Without friends in the 21heisei where do you go? Stay on your island!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is a sidelined nonentity, the US has important bases here but political clout from japan is non existent. All it's neighbors have serious issues with Japan and internationally it's seen as a source of cash, and that's pretty much it. Whaling, historical revision, corruption, despot leaders, apologies that are far from sincere, where is the integrity? But I guess Putin will listen to japan as it has done over the last 60 years with the northern islands.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

What a cricket

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Notice how Abe/Suga did not at all say, "We support the Ukraine!", but only that they 'support' Obama's efforts (ie. lip-service)? Everyone of course noticed Suga refused to answer the question on whether Japan will put impose sanctions against Russia. In other words, what we're seeing is more of the 'support both sides but neither with any resolve or anything more than empty promises' thing that landed Hatoyama in such hot water over the base issue.

Playing both sides will only get your burned by both.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

The crIcket has it alright and outspoken. If you don't stay on your island you will be judged by any standards Everywhere So be aware

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How stationed in Japan is sacrifice for America? If you say contribution, maybe. I think Japan pays the most bill.

Then you are terribly misinformed......

Under the most current 2012 budget, Japan contributed 186 billion yen towards the Special Measures Agreement supporting US forces (most recently signed in 2011) – support is provided in the following five categories;

Partial assumption of welfare costs for Japanese employed by USFJ (since 1978) Establishment of the Facilities Improvement Program (FIP) which provides funds for the maintenance and upgrade of facilities and areas provided to USFJ (since 1979) Partial assumption of labor costs for Japanese employed by USFJ (since 1987) Partial assumption of utility costs for USFJ (since 1991) Assumption of USFJ training relocation costs (since 1996)

Note that while this support does help defray US stationing costs, who else benefits from these programs?

Japanese employees (salary and retirement) Japanese construction companies Japanese utility companies Japanese transportation companies

So the money Japan’s spends on supporting US forces goes directly back into the Japanese economy.

What does the US pay for? Everything else to include;

The salaries (and pension costs) of the 50,000 US military members assigned All the F15s, F-16s, KC-135s, FA-18s, C-130s, P3s, P8s, HH-60s and other rotating special missions aircraft stationed in Japan All ships, to include the USS George Washington aircraft carrier and her Battle Group The Minuteman ICBMs, B52/B1/B2 aircraft, and Trident submarines that defend Japan under the US nuclear umbrella All personnel, facilities and infrastructure costs not covered by the SMA (there are many categories that the SMA will not fund) In addition, Japan receives a guarantee that the US will come to its defense should it be attacked – note that this obligation is not reciprocal – the Treaty does not require Japan to come to the defense of the US if it is attacked.

Japan's contribution to the Security Alliance is noteworthy - but to say it "pays more than its fair share" is inaccurate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sugoi, really

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Amazing how the word "Crimea" does not enter into this article. The closest we get is "Crimean peninsula," as if it is an anonymous piece of real estate. Crimea is an autonomous republic within Ukraine. Movements for splitting Crimea from Ukraine have been brewing since the end of the Soviet Union. Crimea was abruptly given to Ukraine by Khrushchev in 1954. Result is that Russians going generations back in Crimea suddenly found themselves to be under the Ukrainian flag.

The problem is very complex and expressions like "Ukrainian crisis" and Ukrainian situation"do not define it.

When the knee-jerk Abe government says they will support the US this vaguely articulated "Ukrainian situation" you have to wonder just how clueless they really are.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Tokyo would back US efforts to address the Ukraine crisis after Washington lined up sanctions on Russia, an official said.

Moscow will retaliate Tokyo with more expensive Gas. Moscow will postpone about returning some Islands of NT. Tokyo does not understand who has upper hand about trade sanction. Moscow can not be intimidated with trade sanctions.

Russia is Saudi Arabia of Asia. US is Ethiopia of Asia. If Japan is the beautiful princess, will she want to marry with Ethiopia? She will need to play the hunger game for rest of her life. She will need to wear the banana leaves for her modesty instead of luxury consumes.

When Beijing buy Gas from Moscow will give them special discount price five times cheaper than Tokyo. Tokyo will regret about being the faithful donkey of Washington.

It is the right moment for Tokyo for standing up for national interest instead of pleasing uncle Sam for everything. Abe should apologize Putin sooner than later.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Ha! Love Abe's response! The ol' "You go in first, we'll be right behind you" pseudo-support.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why does America need support? This is UN issue more than a US one. Last thing the situation needs is Uncle Sam sending F15s to Lithuania and a destroyer to the Baltic. Japan should be supporting the UN to find a solution. This needs diplomacy, not a hammer.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Earlier today an even more shocking recording has been "leaked" this time one between the always concerned about human rights EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet, in which it is revealed on tape that all those photos of horrifying deaths of Ukrainians by snipers during the last days of the Median stand off, were in fact caused not by Snipers controlled by Yanukovich, but that the snipers shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders!

Here is the key exchange, just after 8 minutes into the conversation :

Paet: "All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides. ... Some photos that showed it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it is really disturbing that now the new coalition they don't want to investigate what exactly happened. So there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition."

Ashton: "I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh."

Paet: "It already discreditates (sic) this new coalition."

So first US orchestrates the Kiev overthrow, and now the new "leaders" of Ukraine are allegedly found to have fired against their own people - the same provocation they subsequently used to run Yanukovich out of the country and install a pro-Western puppet government. Of course, said pro-Western coalition has not been discreditated (sic) because Ms. Ashton has sternly refused to investigate, knowing quite well how horribly this would reflect on the new Ukraine "leadership" - a government which shot its own people to fabricate the pretext under which it rose to power.

Is it any wonder then that Russia has responded the way it has?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Abe should apologize Putin sooner than later.

Nonsense. You do not apologize to a despot who abuses international law so you can have cheaper gas. But, then again, that is typical Japan Inc. thinking.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Let Putin know that Japanese have not forgotten about the Northern Islands dispute. Russia needs to respect International law and return all of them back to Japan. Let the world know as many world audience do not know what the Russian did after the WW2. They are thugs.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

If you live in a country in or near turmoil due to dictatorships or whatever the case.... and all of a sudden things go bad... guess what.... the USA is one of the very few countries on Earth that might physically and monetarily help. Sure there might be strings attached but guess what... there always is no matter what the situation. If you believe that foreigners are willing to die for your country just out of the kindness of their heart then you're extremely naïve and sorely mistaken. If you believe economic sanctions are a simple and easy enough thing to pull of, again, you really do not have a clue. Too many people just spew their views without really thinking or without any experience at all. International relations, Economics and Politics is Serious Business. It is life and death stuff... but you can call Abe a lap dog or say Japan only does what the U.S. tells it to all you want. The real story is much, much more complicated than you realize. You just can't switch loyalties when the direction of the wind changes. That would be akin to realigning yourself from one inter-company political group to another. You can do it once but try doing it a second time and everyone will distrust you.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki, I appreciate your time and efforts to present your length rebuttal of my points even though I have real difficulty to see the logic and premises that you purported.

I think that while Japan is trying to pursue its true independence, its past, its physical location and the dynamic of power- shift in the world would present Japan tremendous challenges ahead. That requiresJapan to be prudent and thoughtful in order to get the desirable outcomes.

That being said, I wish Japan the best.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You just can't switch loyalties when the direction of the wind changes. That would be akin to realigning yourself from one inter-company political group to another. You can do it once but try doing it a second time and everyone will distrust you.

No one is saying switch loyalties, danlawton1. But loyalty also does not mean subordinating all your interests to that company group.

If we must use your analogy, America is the head of the most powerful faction in a company. Japan is also a part of said faction but happens to be quite alone in another department from most of America's lackeys and thus America's new push hurts Japan much more than the others. Japan would thus have to consider not joining in this new initiative, and if America is smart, it'd allow or even subtly encourage it because Japan is also a conduit of the American "faction's" influence in that other department. Weakening Japan's standing in the department does not help America in the long run, let alone Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

globalwatcher: "Let the world know as many world audience do not know what the Russian did after the WW2."

First off, WWII was not finished when Russia took (back) the islands. It was still going, so you can drop the 'after the war was done' garbage. Second, Japan is clearly in no position to tell Russia to do anything, let alone to demand the Kuriles be given to them. As usual, Japan is trying to entertain both parties from the background, while hiding behind the US, and simply hoping the issue dies quickly so that Japan does not have to take any clear actions against one party or the other. I laugh at everyone who thought Abe was a 'strong' leader.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Russia needs to respect International law and return all of them back to Japan

US has no moral ground to lecture Russia about respecting international law. US by itself has never respected international law for invading and bullying smaller nations. Currently Obama has been killing innocent babies and villagers of Yemen, Pakistan, Afgan and Somalia with drones. It is not according the international law.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/25/world/asia/pakistan-us-drone-strikes/

Before Irag war UN security council against the US fabricated WMD for invasion. However US stubbornly went a head of invading Irag without the resolution of UN. It is against the international law.

During Kosovo war, NATO led by US supported KLA which were the terrorists with Air strike. Before the war, they were black listed by Washington. However it became the darling of west suddenly. Due to unfair intervention of west, Serbia has been integrated as many states. Of course Albanians are majority in Kosovo for making the liberation. According the same logic, Russians are majority in Crimea. If they want to make referendum for choosing their destiny, It should be allowed as Kosovo.

Russia is doing the same thing as US before. Although it it questionable that it is lawful or not, US by itself has never respected international law and other opinions. It has double standard about making wild-west adventure by itself. If US want Russia to withdraw from Crimea, using the force is only the solution. Economic embargo and trade sanction will be retaliated by Russia with natural gas weapon. Russia also has major trading nation like PRC which market size is larger than EU.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/07/opinion/putin-western-hypocrosy/

2 ( +4 / -2 )

smithinjapanMar. 09, 2014 - 12:20PM JST

globalwatcher: "Let the world know as many world audience do not know what the Russian did after the WW2."

First off, WWII was not finished when Russia took (back) the islands. It was still going, so you can drop the 'after the war was done' garbage. Second, Japan is clearly in no position to tell Russia to do anything, let alone to demand the Kuriles be given to them. As usual, Japan is trying to entertain both parties from the background, while hiding behind the US, and simply hoping the issue dies quickly so that Japan does not have to take any clear actions against one party or the other. I laugh at everyone who thought Abe was a 'strong' leader.

Smith, thank you for correcting my error. You are absolutely correct on that. Yes, I agree. I have been frustrated with Japan for years on this issue. I do not know why Japan is so reluctant to take assertive actions against Russia. If Russia is weakened during the economic sanctions, if I were a leader of Japan, I would do everything to take the Islands back from Russia. They stole them , so why does Japan hesitate to take a military action to do it. I have no clue. Is Japan afraid of world critics? Hell with that. Russia has no case on that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You say "subordinating all loyalties to one group", you just do not know. So what do you propose Japan does? Maybe Japan should apologize to China and S. Korea and jump into bed with them.... and throw the USA to the Wolves. First off, the Chinese just do not trust the Japanese.... sure they'll do business but war games together. I could see that. The second Japan did that the USA would be furious.... and the EU would probably concur. Another idea.... Japan should just go SAKOKU again. A country that fervently believes the only way out of their mess is to export... hmmm. How can you shut of the rest of the world and expect them to buy your goods with open arms. Oh... I see. Japan and India. Yes that is it. Japan and India should get in bed together. Good luck with that too. Japan isn't subordinating itself... it is doing the best it can considering the times. If Japan wants to get off the subordinate train then it needs to lead period. Don't blame the USA for leading... blame Japan for following and not taking the lead!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@danalawton1 The idea that Japan can "throw the US to the wolves" is purely laughable. I'll argue that in pressuring Japan to pinch Russia, the US is the one "throwing Japan to the wolves".

As for China, you are actually enhancing my argument. As you say, China and Japan would likely never be really friendly. Now, do you think Japan needs to make (or keep) another enemy out of Russia? Can she even afford to do so? I argue no. Back in the 90s, at least it would be cheap but now it is not.

The cost to antagonize Russia is simply much higher for Japan than for the rest of Europe. They are a big power bloc and they only got Russia to face. Japan is on a limb in Asia in comparison and has two enemies. As for allies, I mean, the Phillipines? Malaysia? It is not a matter of will or won't, it is a matter of Can or Can't.

The decision being taken may be good for preserving relationships with America and may be good in a short term. But in a decade / century scale, it is a poor one.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

K S... you're right. Japan actually couldn't throw the USA to the wolves... agreed. A hastily worded thing. Do you know anything about Russia? Putin is nothing more than the head of the largest organized crime faction in the world. And you want Japan to jump into bed with him. Heck... go ahead... get your LNG from Russia.... the Russian's already re-negotiated the LNG contracts.... strong arming Japanese corporations after they made substantial investments. Japan needs to lead.... it needs to take the initiative on international matters. You're all messed up and embarrassed that Japan is only a puppet of the USA.... OK... then grow a set and get out there on your own.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

EthanWilberMar. 08, 2014 - 10:07AM JST Have Americans sacrificed enough by putting their hard earned tax dollars to work, creating a secured environment for Japan to pursue prosperity and grow economy with low payment for defense spending? =======================

Who do you think pays for all the military in Okinawa ?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

global watcher because Russia can seize all of Japans investments in Russia. This includes the oil and gas investments. Then lose the imports of oil and gas. I have written about this before and Abe has to chose between Moscow and Washington. Really Japan has a lot more to lose "supporting" Washington.

Vic M Osaka the bases are paid for by Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Regarding who pays what for U.S. Forces in Japan.... from what I read it appears the cost is around $12 Billion a year, with Japan paying almost $7 billion and the U.S. Paying over $5 Billion. When Japan's economy was doing well $7 Bil was not a major amount... but now with deficits and such... I doubt Japan can afford to subsidize the US Military much longer. So YuriOtani... you're wrong too. Japan pays roughly 60%.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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