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Russian-Japanese relations: Systemic crisis or new opportunities?


Since 2014, the Kremlin treated Japan as a tool to undermine the unity of the "anti-Russian front" formed in the West. However, after 2016, this idea has lost relevance. A new understanding came that special relations with Japan front will not undermine the unity of the West, and Japan will not unilaterally withdraw from sanctions. Despite all the statements about the" turn to the East", the foreign policy thinking of the Russian elite still focuses on Europe. Apparently, Moscow, as it was during the cold war, believes that world politics is committed in the Euro-Atlantic space, and the Asia-Pacific countries are perceived rather as a "strategic rear". In the eyes of Kremlin Japan is still considered an American satellite rather than an independent player. In addition, Moscow somehow feels that even the withdrawal of Japan from sanctions would not lead to serious changes in the economic cooperation between the two countries. Japanese sanctions are rather symbolic, and the weakness of Japanese investment to Russia is related not to sanctions, but to systemic problems of the Russian economy. In Japan, the prevailing position is that the economy should follow politics: economic projects in Russia, stimulated by the Japanese government, should contribute to the solution of political problems. Therefore, investments to Russia are not necessarily viewed from the point of view of their economic efficiency - rather, it is a form of "aid" designed to encourage Moscow’s compromise on the territorial dispute. Russia, however, believes that investment projects in Siberia and the Far East are commercially attractive for both sides and that it is Russia that is doing Japan a favor by allowing it to invest in profitable enterprises.

About the Author

D. V. Streltsov
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Streltsov D.V. Russian-Japanese relations: Systemic crisis or new opportunities? Russian Japanology Review. 2018;1(1):110-119.

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