Japan Updates for the Last Two Months of 2016 (1/3)

Happy New Year 2017.

Many things occurred while I suspended the blog since November 11 2016. Let me briefly look back the major movements related to Japan.

On foreign policy, the biggest event was the Japan-Russo summit on December 15 and 16. The result was what I had expected in this blog. The festival is over, after all. The best Japan can do from now on is to slow down as much as possible the implementation of the twelve documents signed between the two governments. There should be no problem as the documents are not positioned as the international agreements that bind the parties concerned.

According to the poll, it has become clear that more and more Japanese people accepts flexible approach rather than sticking to “the immediate return of all of the four islands.” But it seems that the minimum results they can compromise would be “the return of the two islands,” to which the Russians will never agree. As a consequence, the realistic strategies for the future Japanese government would be trying to settle with “the return of less than the two islands,” or accepting the abandonment of the four islands in exchange for the compensation from Russia. However, I cannot conceive of any collateral Moscow can offer, big enough for Tokyo to make a domestically unpopular decision. Neither Japan suffers from the present Japan-Russo relationship or the lack of a peace treaty. My recommendation for the Northern Territories settlement: Leave it alone.


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