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Malashevskaya Maria. Japan's diplomacy conceptions towards Russia in 1990s and the "Suzuki group" Печать E-mail
26.02.2015 г.

Japan's diplomacy conceptions towards Russia in 1990s and the "Suzuki group"

Malashevskaya Maria

The Japanese policy conceptions on Russian direction had developed under direct influence of the configuration of world politics at the second part of XX century. During Cold War from 1950 to mid-1980's Soviet Union and Japan related to the different antagonistic systems, that made a negative impact to bilateral relations.

There were 2 main directions of Soviet-Japan relations: 1. economic relations and 2. political relations. Economic relations (trade and mutual activity on fishery, oil, coal projects in Far East and Siberia) developed and raised gradually up to the USSR collapse. The political ties were worsened by the ideological antagonism and territorial dispute. In the period of peace negotiations in 1955 - 1956 before the 1956 Joint Declaration was signed there were appeared two main positions on the territorial problem: 1. "yonto: ikkatsu henkanron" (demand to return 4 islands at once and only after sign the Peace treaty) and 2."dankaiteki henkanron" (step-by-step solving of the territorial problem and sign the Peace treaty). First one became the mainstream for the Cold War period.

From the end of 1980's according to Soviet government intention two-part connections were intensified. The changing situation in USSR and caused by that global transformations of 1990's called "global uncertainty" became great "Russian challenge" for Japanese foreign policy.

During short period of 1990's there were formulated numeral new conceptions toward new Russia-Japan relations in post-bipolar period. The "Suzuki group" became the group of politicians and diplomats who formulated new agenda on this direction when the window of opportunity was opened. The core of group: politician, Lower House deputy Suzuki Muneo, high-ranked diplomat Togo Kazuhiko and specialist on Russia in Ministry of foreign affairs Sato Masaru. They acted in two main directions: 1. solving territorial problem using new conceptual basis; 2. develop strong ties on state, regional and personal levels between Russia and Japan.

At the end 1980-s Togo formulated new basic concept on policy toward USSR called "good-tempered balance" (kakudaikinkou). It was concentrated on the closing of bilateral relations in economic, international and official relations and was considered as a basis of Japan's diplomacy toward Russia up to 1996.

From the 1992 representatives of "Suzuki group" suggested to step aside the concept "return 4 island at once". First they offered idea "peace treaty and 2 islands forward" - that was based on Joint Declaration 1956 and was one of variations of "dankaiteki henkanron".

"Group" was very active in period 1996 - 2001 because party and fraction to which Suzuki concerned was in power.

In 1996 they formulated new conception of diplomacy on Russian direction - "multilevel approach" (jyuzoutekina appurochi), which was created to transform relation in strategic partnership in economics, international relations and security in Asia.

That time "group" was very creative in formulating numeral ideas on territorial problem salvation: during "no-necktie meetings" between president Yeltsin and prime Hashimoto in 1997 - 1998 they suggested to avoid the idea of "territorial transfer" in favor of "plan of border determination", which meant to put new demarcation line between Urup and Iturup (based on 1855 border line, mentioned in Simoda treaty). Suzuki and Sato suggested discussing different ways of sovereignty of these territories.

That time (1995 - 2000), to make Japan image better among Kurile Islands inhabitants Suzuki lobbied and carried out several infrastructural projects on disputed islands. In 1999 - 2000 Suzuki Muneo lobbied the construction of Diesel engine power stations on Kunashir, Iturup and Shikotan and there was structured famous House of Russia-Japan friendship on Kunashir Island.

New activity on territorial question under the ideas of "Suzuki group" after Putin became the president of Russia. Suzuki Muneo was nominated to be special envoy of Prime minister in Russia. He tried to construct new ties with fellows of new Russian president team. Face-to-face diplomacy was used again. The main agenda on territorial dispute from September 2000 visit of Russian president to Tokyo to Irkutsk Summit in March 2001 was the version of "step-by-step solving territorial and peace treaty problem" called "2 islands forward". "Suzuki group" promoted it during the half year negotiations. It meant to sign Peace treaty and transfer to Japan Habomai group and Shikotan according to the 1956 Joint Declaration at the first step and continue negotiations on Kunashir and Iturup sovereignty on the second step. New Russian administration agreed to discuss the first step but rejected the second. Negotiations on peace treaty and territories again put in deadlock.

In the 2001 the chair of prime-minister occupied Koizumi Junichiro. Together with new Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanaka Makiko he opposed the conception of "step-by-step solving of territorial and peace treaty problem" in favor of traditional approach "all 4 islands at once". So the "Suzuki group" ideas were rejected from 2001, and in the course of political power struggle Suzuki Muneo became uncomfortable figure for new ambitious prime-minister. Suzuki Muneo and his fellows were eliminated by the corruption scandal, burst out in 2002 February. The political career of Suzuki was determined, Sato Masaru and Togo Kazuhiko were discharged from MOFA. Suzuki and Sato were jailed, Togo had to emigrate to Netherlands for several years. Ideas of the group were rejected for 2000's decade.
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