Friendly ultimatum

From 13 August till 27 August, I had the opportunity to take part in the International Scientific Conference, held at Waseda University in Tokyo. The conference agenda was based on the most important theme for the Russian Far East: prospects for development of Russian-Japanese relations. How Japanese geopolitics represent the future of these relations?

The conference program was very vast and, except the discussion of international problems, it included a wide range of events oriented to the knowing of Japan. I must say that at first I was fascinated by the Land of the Rising Sun. However, the faster the days flew by, the more sobering occurred.Tokyo is a very beautiful city, it is the worldwide capital. It charmed me by clean streets, delicate combination of Oriental spirit and European style, countless numbers of people and sultry summer. However, this is only a facade, just one side of the coin. The conference opened the other side…

Discussions of the conference were smooth sailing and in a positive atmosphere. We shared ideas, discussed and became very good friends with Japanese guys during the first week. In the second week stay in Tokyo we were taken to the Waseda University, where the lecture of professor Fukiura specializing in the history of Russian-Japanese relations was to be held. At first, Professor’s speech was of peaceful character. But then we heard from him something that, to say the least, left perplexed. It turned out that a specific feature of the Russian mentality is natural laziness. And if the saying that “the Russian matryoshka doll is from Japan” can be interpreted as a fun fact and sauce to conversation, the problem of Kuril Islands is not a joke. Professor suggested several ways of solving this problem: either Russia gives 4 islands or 3 islands or two islands, or rules the islands with Japan together. The fact that these islands are of the Russian Federation, is out of the question. According to the Japanese professor, it is the Kuril question that is a stumbling block in Russian-Japanese relations. Its present state has also negative impact on Russian-American relations. According to the speaker, theUnited Statessupported the Japanese position on the Kurils actively. The key to the solving of the problem is territorial concessions in favor ofJapan.

The lecturer’s assessment of some Russia rulers is very curious. Thus, Joseph Stalin is not a very far-sighted ruler. His mistake is that the Soviet Union returned to Russia southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, by driving a wedge into the understanding between the Russian and the Japanese. He says that the rejection of Japan’s “Northern Territories” is pain in the Japanese hearts… Yuri Andropov and his famous phrase “the Kuril problem does not exist” is of the same cohort. However, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev are far-sighted rulers, they are disposed for dialog and collaboration, and they are ready to solve territorial issues in a nontraditional to Russia way…

After the lecture, the audience asked a series of questions, among which the question from the representative of the Russian delegation was: “In 1955 there was the Russian-Japanese conference in Moscow, during which the Soviet Union proposed Japan two Kuril Islands, but the Country of the Rising Sun suddenly refused this proposal. Why? “. The answer was: “By the mid-1950s Japan did not recovered from the shock of war, and could not take those territories.” No comments.

I, as a patriot, was bitter and sad for the Japanese people, whose representative was Professor Fukiura. The Japanese deserve the better representatives in the dialogues with the Russian. A country with an ancient culture, successfully blended with the rapidly changing XXI century should remember their history. Now revanchism is becoming very popular in Japan. Fighters for the “northern territories” organize the most powerful anti-Russian campaigns trying to present the Russian as occupationists and aggressors. But Russia did not beginning the war in 1904. Not the soldiers of the Red Guard entered the Japanese land on April 4-5, 1918, but the Japanese invaders landed in Vladivostok for pillaging and killing ten thousands of civilians in the Russian Far East for over four years. It was Japanese military that provoked the conflicts in Hassan and Halkin-Gol. And, again,Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, when it became an ally of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The end of a series of reckless attempts during the half of a century is well known. Nuclear mushrooms of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the crown of this aggressive policy that turned down a tragedy for millions of Japanese. This ought not to be repeated. And any instigators of hostility between the Russian and Japanese peoples should be in advance ranked as war criminals – since before their plans become bloody true story.


Veronika Golovina

3rd year student of the Faculty of History of the Far Eastern State University of Humanities.

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