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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 March 30 - April 5  > Economic cooperation with Russia has nothing to do with return of Japan-claimed ‘northern territories’
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2022 March 30 - April 5 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Economic cooperation with Russia has nothing to do with return of Japan-claimed ‘northern territories’

April 3, 2022

In expectation of bringing about a positive effect on territorial negotiations with Russia, the Japanese government in 2014 launched projects based on the bilateral economic cooperation plan proposed by former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. However, it has come to light that these projects do not play a part in achieving the return of the currently Russia-held “northern territories” and providing support for former Japanese islanders.

The government recently released a report boasting the “accomplishments” of the economic cooperation plan with Russia by giving examples such as: "operation of the advanced type of signal control system started at 10 intersections, reducing the average traffic delay time by 18%; a waste-to-energy plant constructed in Moscow; and manufacturing and sales of new type of coronavirus testing kits invented in Japan began in Russia.” The government in the past five fiscal years (2016-2020) spent about 19.6 billion yen for the plan.

These “accomplishments” had nothing to do with the bilateral territorial talks. It appears that Japan presented President Putin with the use of a huge amount of Japanese taxpayers’ money.

The economic cooperation plan was proposed by former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in 2016 under a situation where the EU imposed economic sanctions on Russia in reaction to the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ex-PM Abe supposedly thought that a proposal benefiting Russia would make progress in negotiations on a peace treaty which is necessary to solve various issues between the two countries, such as the territorial issue. Abe at that time also indicated his intent to abandon Japan’s traditional policy of claiming all “four disputed islands” and instead to settle the territorial dispute with the return of only “two islands”.

Under the 2022 budget, the government will spend about 2.1 billion yen for economic cooperation-related projects.

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Tamura Tomoko on March 22 at a House Budget Committee meeting presented a photo of ex-PM Abe shaking hands with President Putin which was posted on the Foreign Ministry’s web page regarding the Japan-Russia economic cooperation plan. The JCP lawmaker referred to severe economic sanctions currently imposed by the international community against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. She pointed out that as shown by the photo, if Japan maintains economic cooperation with Russia, it will weaken the global collaboration to stop the invasion of Ukraine.

After Tamura made a criticism of the bilateral economic cooperation, the Foreign Ministry took down the web page which included the photo in question, a video explaining the economic cooperation plan, and a video of ex-PM Abe’s speech at the Eastern Economic Forum.

Past related article:
> JCP demands cancellation of 'Japan-Russia economic cooperation plan' [March 11 & 12, 2022]
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