Date: 31 October 2022 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Not Only Disputed Kuril Islands: Ties Between Russia, Japan Soured Considerably

First, the FSB detained a Japanese consul, then Moscow suspended a visa-free regime to travel off the Kuril Islands while Japan responded with a fresh batch of sanctions. Tensions have run high between Moscow and Tokyo. Both have a very slim chance to improve ties as Japan is aware of the Chinese threat and the Russian aggressive policy being two sides of the same coin.

SOURCE: Nikol Pashinyan (@NikolPashinyan) / Twitter

Japan is in the final stages of negotiations with the United States to buy U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles, whose range could cover both China and the Russian Far East, the Yomiuri daily reported. The Japanese government declined to comment on the matter yet earlier it had made it clear its biggest military purchases since World War II came in response to the growing military threat from China. With the policy of the Kremlin, such a move could be a response to the Russian threat. Relations between Japan and Russia further soured amid Japanese sanctions on Russia. Japan and Russia traded tit-for-tat moves by expelling some diplomats while Moscow suspended negotiations for a post-war peace treaty with Japan. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and vowed to work with the international community on further sanctions. In early October the Japanese foreign ministry ordered a Russian diplomat based in Sapporo to leave the country in a tit-for-tat move. Russia’s FSB security agency said it had detained a Japanese consul in Russia’s port city of Vladivostok for allegedly obtaining classified information. Tatsunori Motoki was declared persona non grata and has been ordered to leave Russia. Tokyo earlier lodged a protest about the detention to Moscow’s foreign ministry, saying it was a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The Ukrainian parliament on October 7 accepted some islands in the Kuril Islands chain, disputed between Russia and Japan, as Japanese territory. A statement by Ukraine’s parliament also called on the international community to take “all possible measures” to legally formalize the status of the islands, known in Japanese as the Northern Territories. Japan also announced additional sanctions on Russia for annexing four regions of Ukraine. The country sanctioned 80 individuals and nine Russian-based organizations, including the families of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, or Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The new sanctions also target Sputnik and RT Editor-In-Chief Margarita Simonyan, and retired Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva. The restrictions also apply to arms manufacturers, shipbuilders, and Russia’s Rostech. Japan’s government earlier banned the export of materials that may be used for chemical weapons. Russia has scrapped an agreement with Japan to allow Japanese former residents to visit disputed islands without visas.

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