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Functionalist Approach to Explain Russian-Japanese Relations under Abe and Putin Administrations

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Russian-Japanese relations present one of the most interesting cases of international relations with a perplexing historical background and a complex set of factors influencing contemporary  dynamics of Russian- Japanese interaction. The relations are claimed to have improved under Putin and Abe administrations, introduction of the Eight-Point Cooperation Plan and establishment of a unique post of a Minister for Cooperation with Russia. This article analyzed the specific period of Russian-Japanese relations between 2016 and 2019. Improved bilateral relations created a historical precedent that is important to understand in light of contemporary deteriorated relations between Japan and  Russia. However, Russian-Japanese  cooperation in this period is complicated by a complex historical legacy and other factors and is set to be locked in a Kurilian stumbling block. International relation theories traditionally applied to  analyze Russian-Japanese  relations fail to suggest the way out and the mechanisms to improve Russian-Japanese relations. The present article explores the theoretical apparatus traditionally applied to Russian-Japanese  relations and investigates  the potential of a functionalist approach to explain Russian-Japanese relations between 2016 and 2019. Functionalism describes the way to improve relations of countries with adversarial relations by moving away from high-politics issues and quid pro quo logic and focusing on the problem-solving approach. The spill-over effect occurs when cooperation established in one field expands to other areas. The article concludes by arguing that, in contemporary  Russian-Japanese cooperation, there is a hybrid spill-around effect.

About the Authors

G. F. Ishkineeva
Tsukuba University

Ishkineeva Guzel Faridovna – PhD (Sociology), Post-doctoral researcher Graduate School of  Humanities and Social Sciences, Tsukuba University.


F. F. Ishkineeva
Kazan Federal University
Russian Federation

Ishkineeva Farida Falesovna – PhD (Sociology), Associate Professor, Department of General and Ethnic Sociology, Institute of Social and Philosophic Sciences and Mass Communications Kazan Federal University.



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For citations:

Ishkineeva G.F., Ishkineeva F.F. Functionalist Approach to Explain Russian-Japanese Relations under Abe and Putin Administrations. Russian Japanology Review. 2022;5(1):49-75.

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