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Malashevskaya M. N. Negotiations between Russia and Japan in 1990s Печать E-mail
31.03.2014 г.

Negotiations between Russia and Japan in 1990s through Japanese newspaper cartoon (based on Asahi-shimbun materials)

Malashevskaya M. N. (Saint Petersburg State University)

The history of Russian-Japanese relation in 1990s in general as well as its chronicles and results of the summit talks of the period in particular are being frequently redefined and analyzed by researchers in history, cultural and political studies. Newspaper cartoon is seems as a data source for a more detailed redefining of the events that refer to the negotiations between Russia and Japan in 1990s. A cartoon helps researchers gain a realistic view over the events in terms of Japanese society. Moreover cartoon's vivid images that accompany text part are more likely to appeal to a reader and design a certain image and attitude to a happening than the article itself.

Current research is a review of works published in editorials of «Asahi Shimbun» - one of the oldest Japanese newspapers. Political wise the newspaper office represents left-wing views as opposed to center-right «Yomiuri Shimbun» or ultra right oriented «Sankei Shimbun». Asahi Shimbun cartoons were made by reputed manga artists such as Hari Sunao (針すなお, born 1933), Yamada Shin (山田紳, born 1940), Kojima Koo (小島功, born 1928). Therefore in our opinion the cartoons might be of certain artistic value. Yet the author of current research is more interested in the contents.

Below are the results of newspaper's materials study:

1. Newspaper cartoon related to the assessment of negotiations between Russian and Japanese parties appeared mostly in early 1990s, namely in 1991-1993, which was related to worlds changes and greater expectations of Russia's new authorities the Japanese side had. Second period of «cartoon activity» refers to unofficial talks between Boris Yeltsin and Ryutaro Hashimoto in 1997-1998 and K. Obuchi's official visit to Moscow in 1998. Third period refers to early 2000s when Russia's new president Vladimir Putin made fundamental change in the milestones of negotiations.

2. Japanese cartoons expressed no trust to Russian authorities although Japanese diplomats and politicians vigorously promoted the idea of «mutual trust» and better understanding between two countries. The Image of Yeltsin is mostly negative: through the prism of cartoons Russian Federation's first president was considered a dishonest and untrustworthy negotiator.

3. According to the cartoons Japanese Prime ministers who participated in the negotiations with the President of Russia appear short-sighted and somewhat clumsy. Japanese politician's and economist's ideas on investment and humanitarian aid to Russia are viewed in a critical manner (the image of Japan as a service center for Russia is displayed).

4. Japanese cartoon artists turn to the motives of sports competition between Russian and Japanese leaders. According to Japanese perception Russian party is always ahead. Interestingly Yeltsin period would be portrayed by western sports (esp. baseball) while Putin's rule would be illustrated by martial arts as he performed as a judoka in front of the Japanese audience during his official visit to Tokyo back in 2000.

At large newspaper cartoon study displays that the assessment of negotiations between Russia and Japan was very low throughout the last decade of 20th century. Moreover by the end of Yeltsin's presidency general critics of accomplishment of plans that were made during this period and lack of faith to the president of Russia was aggravated by low estimation of Japanese leaders' ability to hold talks and guard state interests of Japan. Besides those cartoons were opposite with the official statements of Japanese authorities of the period. Thus Japanese newspaper cartoons revealed true attitude of Japanese society to the negotiations between Russia and Japan in 1990s.

For full text see: IOCS Works («Orientalia et Classica» Series) History and culture of traditional Japan. 7 / Ed. A.N.Mesheryakov, RSUH. Moscow, 2014.
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