The Kuril islands dispute between Russia and Japan Jul 17, 2017 18:52:07 GMT
Post by Admin on Jul 17, 2017 18:52:07 GMT
Japan's strategy of trying to incentivize political concessions from Russia with economic sweeteners while maintaining sanctions is a difficult balancing act. Over time, Japan would like to move toward joint administration of the islands, after first engaging in initial projects that allow cooperation without Japan officially acknowledging Russia's sovereignty over them. But due to the Kremlin's position on territorial integrity in the years since the annexation of Crimea, Russia is unwilling to cede territory.
The recent tensions between U.S. allies in the Pacific and Russia over North Korea could spell a further hardening of the Russian stance. Defense and foreign ministers from both countries resumed dialogue in March, with Japan voicing concern about Russia’s militarization of the Kurils.
Little progress was made during an April visit by Abe to Russia, and in June, Putin said Russia should beef up its defenses in the Kurils following U.S. buildups elsewhere. Putin specifically noted his concerns that any concessions now in the Southern Kurils could lead to an extension of U.S. military basing or missile defense in the future.
Russia and China have also become closer as they work to deepen their mutual economic ties and coordinate on North Korea. Both have said that the withdrawal of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile systems and a halt to U.S. military exercises with South Korea is a must for progress to be made on North Korea. With tough negotiations ahead over sanctions on North Korea, the Southern Kurils dispute will face further friction. But even as China and Russia become increasingly close and the United States pushes a hard line on North Korea, with an eye toward the long-term regional balance, Japan will work to ensure that it does not lose ground on its dialogue with Russia.