Japan and the Kuril Islands Dispute -(2)

From a governmental standpoint, historically (from1956 onward), Japan’s successive administrations, including the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have contributed little towards resolution of the conflict. They have maintained no consistent policy on the issue, claiming at various times, two, three, or four islands in the dispute. At this time, I would like to turn my attention back to the Soviet Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, reexamining it in light of current, existing global policies. Prior to his March 2012 inauguration, President Putin made a statement to the effect that he considered the Kuril Islands issue a ‘HIKIWAKE’ (JUDO technical term applied to a match which is ruled a draw). (It is said that Putin’s interest in Judo stems from his boyhood as a streetwise ruffian. Putin attributed his personal ‘turn around’ (change in attitude) to the discipline he acquired through the sport.) His use of the term ‘HIKIWAKE’ is full of implication, for he was, doubtless, addressing the entirety (history) of the situation, dating back to the Soviet Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956. In order to open the current discussion, we will need to return to 1956, and work forward. What must be taken into consideration, first and foremost, is the issue of the current occupants. For many decades, Russians have inhabited and worked these islands; this is an existing situation, and cannot be ignored. Any negotiation calls for a straightforward approach, and brings to mind the proverb, that ‘it is impossible to determine win or loss prior to placing one’s bet on a horse race.’ In any event, expediting a settlement of peace would act to strengthen the global strategic power balance. It goes without saying, that it is unwise, or even dangerous, (given the current global political climate) for Japan to continue with the status quo (no formal peace treaty with Russia, and under U.S. military protection). It is also unacceptable, given the current power balance, no longer cold war ‘bipolar’ but post-cold war ‘multipolar’. Put another way, (in economic jargon), the situation is analogous to ‘putting all one’s eggs in one basket’. Resolution of this dispute will require absolute agreement between both parties. Needless to say, a thorough investigation must be undertaken, examining the claims of both plaintiffs. This will undoubtedly, involve a long and drawn-out process. Nothing less will be acceptable in drawing up a final resolution. At this point, however, we cannot afford to waste any more time, for ‘Time once lost, is lost forever’.

9月 4, 2012

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