politics

Japan's embrace of Russia under threat with Ukraine crisis

41 Comments
By Aaron Sheldrick

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41 Comments
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It is a big pain in the back for the Japanese government

What a shame they are talking about their own economic greed here, and not for the welfare of the Ukrainian people....pathetic

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

That what they always did talk about and will for time being until the system as we know it will collapse.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Japan should stick with the Russians. Let the Western countries stamp their feet and make impotent threats. In the end nothing will happen. The relationship with Russia should be a bigger priority than helping corrupt Western nations trying to hide their own hypocrisy by pointing fingers at Russia.

What a shame they are talking about their own economic greed here, and not for the welfare of the Ukrainian people....pathetic.

Who is "they"? Are you an expert on the welfare of the Ukrainian people?

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

@the_odeman

Japan is right - at least not demonstrating double standards: I don't remeber Japan sanctioning USA nor NATO countries over Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Afganistan, Iraq and Libya.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Japan isn't a major global diplomatic player so it's probably better for the government to pretend that nothing is happening in Ukraine.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Regarding any possible sanctions or "penalties" against Russia - the Japanese government will agree with what the US says. Always will.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

What a shame they are talking about their own economic greed here, and not for the welfare of the Ukrainian people....pathetic

Do you really believe the West is not concerned about the economic impact? The UK for one will not allow this to undermine trade with Russia.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Like Japan, the EU is too reliant on Russian gas to allow any real sanctions.

So, the EU is also looking soft on the situation since they also import Russian gas. So, Japan acting soft is not so different.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Thank you, Japan, for protecting my home country from Putin, we - Ukrainians, living in Japan, appreciate this very much. Russian government is a Nazi government, that is happy to kill other nationalities "to protect ethnic Russians" in their countries and restore the Great Russian Empire. Putin is the new Hitler. World should say NO to Putin's dictatorship in Europe.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

officials worry that any push by Japan’s Western allies to impose economic penalties will undermine its drive to improve relations with Moscow.

It might be a little late to worry about relations with Moscow. That ship has sailed.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What a shame they are talking about their own economic greed here, and not for the welfare of the Ukrainian people....pathetic

Because Ukraine leapt to Japan's defence regarding... just what and when exactly?

If Japan is as unimportant as J-haters say, nobody would even notice what they say and do, right?

Speaking of which, how are your own efforts on behalf of Ukraine going? Please list the donations/protests/sacrifices you've been involved in.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

@anahorn

Russian government is a Nazi government, that is happy to kill other nationalities "to protect ethnic Russians" in their countries and restore the Great Russian Empire. Putin is the new Hitler.

Too strong words, and sadly, with too much hate...

Ironically, Wikipedia says that the Svoboda Political Party, which acknowledge to orchestrate and provide an armed support to the Ukrainian revolution, "has been described as an anti-Semitic and sometimes a Neo-Nazi party by international newspapers, organizations that monitor hate speech, Jewish organizations, and political opponents."

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

I think Putin is playing the game very well and that it is going to be another diplomatic embarrassment for US President Obama.

I wonder what will happen if the Ukrainian President in Exile formally asks Russia for intervention and formally asks UN and the West not to impose economic sanctions. He is not qualified for Ukrainian President because,,? I think the leadership of President Obama will be questioned again.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Have to laugh at Putin condemning the 'revolution' as he calls it... remind me again what happened in Russia to create the USSR he so fondly recalls and wishes to recreate?

Japan's stance is understandable. The economies of the world are only just starting to recover... the last thing we all need is another meltdown... that will only lead to what we all fear - a war with Russia. Yes Russia needs to stand down, but they know that economic threats are just that - threats.

No-one will be stupid enough to threaten military action, and Putin knows that. Anyone crazy enough to carry out an ICBM test launch in the middle of a crisis will do whatever it takes to get what they want. Putin is dangerous, but no-one will overthrow him. The Generals love him for his strength, and the people for making Russia powerful again.

Japan has its own dispute with Russia and really doesn't want to antagonise them.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

@CH3CHO

I wonder what will happen if the Ukrainian President in Exile formally asks Russia for intervention and formally asks UN and the West not to impose economic sanctions.

I think V.Churkin @ UN showed a letter (dated March 1, 2014) from the Ukrainian President in Exile requesting Putin for such an intervention. According to V.Churkin, the request is legitimate. Putin said yesterday that, for now, there is no need for such an intervention. Not sure about any words regarding economic sanctions though...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thank you, Japan, for protecting my home country from Putin, we - Ukrainians, living in Japan, appreciate this very much.

So far as I can see, Japan has done nothing. Is that what amounts to protection in your eyes?

Russian government is a Nazi government, that is happy to kill other nationalities "to protect ethnic Russians" in their countries and restore the Great Russian Empire. Putin is the new Hitler. World should say NO to Putin's dictatorship in Europe.

Demonstrably false hate propaganda. The Ukrainians need to get their act together. How many "revolutions" are they going to hold in my lifetime?

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Russia is fully aware that Japan is a vassal and agent of America. The same way America has used Japan against China it will try to do the same with the Russian East. Very soon Russia will come to collect back the Kuriles. Now, facing the Chinese Dragon and soon the Russian Bear, Shinzo Abe has suddenly become really silent. America has just too many unnecessary businesses in many parts of the world that do not concern it. What can they do even with its bases in Japan to confront both countries at the same time. Time to remove Shinzo Abe and his bunch of clowns, return the region to peace and kick out the Americans from Okinawa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@japanesereds

Do you really believe the West is not concerned about the economic impact? The UK for one will not allow this to undermine trade with Russia.

The sanctions would lead to new economic recession and the EU would not do that easily. If Russia send troops to main Ukraine, it would lead to sanctions. It is very unlikely scenario, but if the EU would declare sanctions, they would be very serious about it and the UK would not say otherwise. (And neither would Japan. I think that it is very unlikely that Japan would ally with Russia and China against the EU and the USA.) Actually it is quite interesting that in the news G8 has already become G7.

As for the Ukraine EU membership. It is not going to happen. Ukraine doesn't meet any ingress regarding political or financial development.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oil imports from Russia rose almost 45% in 2013 and accounted for about 7% of supplies to the world’s fourth-biggest crude importer.

Russia is the Saudi Arabia for Japan as USA. Japan needs Russia more than other G6 members. It is not the national interest of Japan for offending Russia.

If Japan supports Russia diplomatically, US may be angry. However Japan may get back some Islands of NT. Japan will get the cheap Gas with discount. If Abe has been keep bashing Putin, he will upset and support PRC diplomatically for current tension.

Russia is a prince charming for Japan. Japan should be independent for foreign policy for securing energy supply and getting some territories back. Nuclear energy may be cheaper however there will be another Fukushima again.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I agree with those saying that Japan's best play is to resist joining in any attempts to sanction Russia. The fact is, Japan is quite alone in the Far East compared to Europeans in Europe. The opportunity cost to them to anger the Russians is simply much higher than an European nation or the States.

In fact, Japan already let a huge opportunity slip due to their inability to shake off their own Russophobia and their attempt to follow American Russophobia. They should have been trying to bring Russia into their circle (which will also conveniently bring it a bit more into the Western circle) so it doesn't slip into the Chinese circle. Now it is already too late but at least they can stop compounding the mistake.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

BurakuminDesMar. 05, 2014 - 04:06PM JST Regarding any possible sanctions or "penalties" against Russia - the Japanese government will agree with what the >US says. Always will.

Guess that's why Japan still imports oil/gas from Iran.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan is caught between rock and a hard place.

Deserting from the US on its effort to confront Russia’s aggression will surely not a wise play as it not only sows futher distrust but also infuriates the American Congress and the White House. (Obama’s Asia trip is scheduled in April, S.K may take advantge of Japan's embrace of-Russia strartgy by showing its unweaving solidarity with the US.)

More, Japan’s Russian-card play might backfire sooner than it may think, if the Russians stay in Crimea for 6 monthsor more, the de facto would overrides status quo. As a result, Russia would have to look for a big player in crime to fence off the west. Japan's dimilishing Influences in tthe world by any standards won’t fit the bill for Russia.

Yes, Japan could be a short term beneficiary in Ukrainian theater, but such advantage may be quickly fleeting. In the end, it would expose its character weakness not to mention to lose flavor from the both poles.

Based on Abe’s political, diplomatic and strategic savviness demonstrated in the past, Japan could emerge out with a pair of empty hands when the dust settles.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

RISK AVERT STRATEGY

Do not put a dozen eggs in one basket. Instead spread and diversify the investment to many different baskets.

Always look for better secure safer alternatives for natural resources..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Advise to Japan not to ride the wave and damage the growing relationship with Russia , this crisis to its way to resolve

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why should Japan feel embarrassed about Russia? The reason Abe wanted Putin wasn't because Putin was a nice guy, why should he not want him now when he proves not so nice?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

rsgz4gg7y2Mar. 06, 2014 - 05:09AM JST

Why should Japan feel embarrassed about Russia

Not embarrassed. EMBRACE.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The reference to Nazis is not that far from the mark. The closest even to Russia taking over the Crimea (Putin says not he) is the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Although Hitler seems to had been a better diplomat than Putin is today. He got the western powers to give him the territory. Also looking at the history of ex-Soviet states, there is a good chance that the Ukraine may break up along ethic lines as Czechoslovakia did. Today we have the Czech Republic and Slovakia created in 1993. With Putin stepping in (says not), this complicates any break up. As for Japan's reaction, it just depends on what Abe's administration thinks of the rule of law and territorial sovereignty. Neither China nor USSR/Russia has a record of standing for territorial sovereignty. Japan seems to be right with them. The west has said they will replace any loss of petrol product due to sanctions. How the Japan-Russia relations plays out is still an open question. But I also would not be surprised if Putin had a new Richard Sorge in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Art of War: Make your enemy believe he is not your enemy but your friend, as you pursue warlike activities against a supposed enemy of little real value until you can conquer your real enemy...or something to that effect. In fact, Russia stands to lose a lot more than just a client state, like the Ukraine, if it doesn't align itself with Japanese and American interests.

We know that China intends to invade Primorye within the next few years. We also know that part of their strategy is to have North Korea stage an invasion of the south, fully backed by Chinese soldiers, so that American forces will be caught in a holding action on the Korean peninsula. Unable to assist the Russians in holding back the Chinese hordes from invading Primorye and seizing Vladivostok, the Russians will lose access to the Pacific, as well as a treasure of natural resources.

China has a masterplan to tie down American forces in the Korean peninsula while it invades Primorye. The US has a counterplan with our allies in the South China Sea, where we hold a knife at the soft underbelly of the PLA. Once its forces are marshalled along the Chinese/Primorye border, Tibet is open to allied invasion and independence with East Turkmenistan soon following and rampant terrorism in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia soon following. So, of course China decries our military operations in the Philippines and elsewhere, because we will force them to lose their colonies in the west and north, if they invade Russia.

At the moment, the Chinese have almost achieved their objective of having the means to seize much of the Russian Far East within the next two years and hold it indefinitely, perhaps into the next century...if the US does not intervene. The threat of nuclear war once made this a fanciful proposition in terms of intentions, but the PLA capability to accomplish this manageable “force projection” is set to follow the next Russian debacle or collapse on the international stage.

China is playing at deceit, especially since it still requires Russian technology and military hardware that they’re incapable of producing for themselves, at present. As such, the Senkakus are simply a red herring played out as a pubic-relations diversion for what China actually intends, which is recovering the lost treasure of the Qing Dynasty. While seemingly preparing for war with Japan, they are arming themselves for the reacquisition of the Primorye peninsula.

China does not forget its humiliations nor turn its back on its lost treasures. China regards the many humiliations imposed on the Chinese during the Qing dynasty (with their concomitant losses of territory to Russia, in particular) as being the paramount insult-- not the loss of some uninhabited islands of dubious commercial value. Regardless of their claim to securing safe portage in the East China Sea, China knows that it will be best served by an established presence at Vladivostok to ensure access to the Pacific for its navy and safer portage for its trade than the shallow waters of the First Island Chain.

Consequently, the Chinese are using the Senkakus to “hide their strength and bide their time” until Russia falters. Russia, meanwhile, sells China all the oil, natural gas and timber that China needs to grow even stronger and more determined, until Russia once again falters. At that moment, the troop trains will be filled with the Yellow Peril and turned towards Primorye. The Russians are a mere 7 million across the border, with most of those being civilians. The Chinese on the other side of the border are numbered in the hundreds of millions.

It is no contest...because China will win, if the US does not intervene.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Deserting from the US on its effort to confront Russia’s aggression will surely not a wise play as it not only sows futher distrust but also infuriates the American Congress and the White House. (Obama’s Asia trip is scheduled in April, S.K may take advantge of Japan's embrace of-Russia strartgy by showing its unweaving solidarity with the US.)

The US won't like it, and it might counterplay symbolically (maybe cancel an exercise, maybe temporarily restrict intelligence), but it is not in the US interest to make any huge countermoves like threatening the alliance itself or sanctions. Like it or not, though overall she's much less useful than say Britain, Japan is still the biggest ally they have this side of the pond by a fair margin.

Besides, it is such short-term, tactical considerations that have been (along with a natural Russophobia) preventing a major Japan policy shift they should have made 20 years ago. The facts of life are that geopolitically (which is to say in a Grand Strategy, decade / century-scale sense) it is not really healthy for Japan to hold a hostile stance towards Russia. If Japan is just on great terms with China and Korea, she could afford it, but it is still not really healthy and Japan is not on great terms with China and Korea.

But any such moves are blocked by Russophobia and fear of losing even temporary favor with the US. To justify it, generally itty-bitty issues like the Northen Territories are brought up. To the extent real territory is involved I consider it a step up from Yasukuni, but ultimately they are just smokescreens to stop Japan from doing what is truly necessary.

More, Japan’s Russian-card play might backfire sooner than it may think, if the Russians stay in Crimea for 6 monthsor more, the de facto would overrides status quo. As a result, Russia would have to look for a big player in crime to fence off the west. Japan's dimilishing Influences in tthe world by any standards won’t fit the bill for Russia.

I'd disagree. Yes, it is true that Japan is not exactly a huge player (at least when compared to the US, China or the largest European States). On the other hand, given that Russia's "allies" are generally the likes of Syria or Venzeula, Japan is a big step up and worth coveting.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, I hope PM Abe and others in the government understand that by either siding with Russia or “sitting on the fence” it makes them look absolutely foolish and hypocritical the next time China either sends ships or aircraft through their air or sea space in the Senkakus and they scream for US and international community support for a “violation of their sovereignty.”

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It is getting increasingly clear the US won't take very substantive actions over the Senkakus anyway. They might do a show of force, but as for things that actually hurt (like sanctions) ... forget it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

To accuse Russia in aggression against the Ukraine is surely overreaction:

"*The Estonian Foreign Minister reports to Catherine Ashton that the same snipers shot at both police and protesters, and that "it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition” who was behind the sniper activity. Ashton responds with "I think we do want to investigate. I didn't pick that up, that's interesting. Gosh," and then changes the subject.

http://rt.com/news/ashton-maidan-snipers-estonia-946/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/05/ukraine-bugged-call-catherine-ashton-urmas-paet *"

At the end of the day, Japan has got own national interests.

Michael Kerjman

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Kazuaki Shimazaki

It is getting increasingly clear the US won't take very substantive actions over the Senkakus anyway. They might do a show of force, but as for things that actually hurt (like sanctions) ... forget it.

And you of course realize that sanctions would also hurt Japan worth of several billion dollars of lost trade? Even Japan doesn't want that.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When your own house in on fire, why should you intervene in a marital dispute in your neighbour's house ? Especially when one of them could lend you a fire hose... Cynical but realistic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, if Japan become Russian economic partner, it will also benefit USA in a long term. By the way, I afraid, Ukraine will be divided in two countries by their own referendum. West can join EU and East can even join Russia. If they are unhappy together, it maybe wise to split but it has to be done by their own people decision since Nato may decide to do intervention and cause a new cold war!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

G8 has already become G7.

Yeah, U.S. and puppets, which G7 always been. Because Great 7 is not great until Canada in G7. Even South Korea has much more industrilized and bigger economy. Russia was black sheep in G8, cause it had independent policy, which does not depend on US.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The situation in Ukraine does not look good at this point. All of signs indicates that Russia is digging in for a long hual as the tensions have been further escalated – unfortunately, Crimea's parliament has voted to join Russia today. (meaning: Russia encroached Crimea already, Ukrainian sovereignty is at risk)

The west led by the US will respond accordingly by imposing some sorts of sanctions pretty soon. As a direct result, Japan might be left without much choice or time to pick the side.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

unfortunately, Crimea's parliament has voted to join Russia today.

Why is this "unfortunate"? Are you against the right of people to determine their own destiny?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@hidingout

Why is this "unfortunate"? Are you against the right of people to determine their own destiny?

If you watch RT, they will only tell you that half of the people are ethnic Russians, but that doesn't mean that they actually want to join Russia. Some of the "local volunteers" have Russian army gear and their cars are registered in Russia. Some of the Pro-Russian demonstrators are actual Russians, who have got the free trip to Ukraine. On the other hand you don't see much Pro-Ukraine demonstrators, because "local volunteers" don't allow it. Crimean parliament is surrounded by "local volunteers" and they don't allow parliament members to communicate with outside world. There are 100 members in the parliament, 64 were present and 61 voted for Russia. It is quite interesting why so many members of the parliament voted against their own party policy, but we can't ask them, because they are not allowed to speak.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Russia, is not creator of this problem in Ukraine. The people of Ukraine with all due respect are to blame for their predicament. Their governments are democratically elected but then there is no respect for democracy at all. Legally democratically elected governments should not be thrown out by demonstrations in the street but by the ballot box. Ukraine has created a history of total disrespect for democracy. Although one can understand the grievances, in particular related to corruption. Still, destroying their cities is hardly the manner to fix the problem. The EU should not have made offers too sweet to bring Ukraine toward it as the EU has too many poor countries already almost all dependent on Germany and a few other members. I am European and I am 100% against its expansion because financially is not viable. The People of Ukraine were just looking forward to more handouts from the EU with dreams of leaving their country and move to the healthy economies of Europe. Their government had to make pragmatic decisions with Russia in mind, after all they are neighbors and share much of their culture and religion and this needs to be respected. The EU acted in a stupid manner and if that option had been put to a vote in the EU, the European people would have voted down any offers to get Ukraine added to the EU list of members. Putting Russia in a corner is not the way to handle such an important country. I do not agree with the invasion of Crimea by Russia or any other party but clear heads need to prevail in this situation and find a solution. Abe San must stay his ground in regard to having the best interests of Japan first, always. The issue of Ukraine and Russia should not and must not be an obstruction to Japan Russia relations. The USA and the EU have never attempted to help Japan improve relations with Russia. Those countries have never made any attempts to press Russia to return the Northern Islands off of Hokkaido back to Japan. When the USA attacked Iraq under false pretenses no caring for Japan was given although we all know Japan imports 100% of its energy. The USA acted for its own interests first, the EU acts for its own interests first and Japan must have the same right and we must respect it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is setting off alarm bells in Tokyo, where officials worry that any push by Japan’s Western allies to impose economic penalties will undermine its drive to improve relations with Moscow."

What about Moscow's drive to improve relations with Tokyo? There isn't any such drive. If there was, they would return the islands off Hokkaido that they stole at the end of the war.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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