Japan's policies questioned

Updated: 2013-11-04 00:49

By ZHANG YUNBI in Beijing and CAI HONG in Tokyo (China Daily)

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Moscow says 2+2 talks not an 'encroachment' on relations with other countries

Japan's policies questioned

From left: Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera attend a news conference following their first 2+2 foreign and defense ministers meeting at the Iikura Guesthouse of the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo on Saturday. [Photo/Agencies]

Moscow expressed displeasure with the expanding traditional US-Japanese alliance in the Asia-Pacific region after foreign and defense ministers of Russia and Japan wrapped up their "2+2" meeting.

Analysts said that Japan is trying to break out of its diplomatic deadlock in Northeast Asia "by courting Russia and alienating China and Russia", but Tokyo's policymakers have miscalculated Moscow's overall strategic considerations.

"The 2+2 format is not an encroachment on Japan's relations with the United States or with any other country. We hope that the United States relations with Japan will not pose problems for Russia, either," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a joint news conference after the 2+2 meeting on Saturday, which included the countries' defense and foreign ministers.

The countries agreed on mutual visits by the both nations' ministers on a regular basis. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Saturday's meeting has opened a "new page for Japan-Russia cooperation in security and defense".

But in the presence of Kishida, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Lavrov said, "The principle of indivisibility of security has not been translated into action yet, which is seen in the United States' plans for creating a global missile defense", leading Russian news agency Tass reported.

Lu Yaodong, director of the department of Japanese diplomacy of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that as far as Moscow is concerned, the rising US-Japanese alliance and Washington's rebalancing strategy "have brought about a number of destabilizing factors to the region".

The Russia-Japan meeting took place one month after a similar 2+2 US-Japanese meeting in early October. As part of their agreement, the US will deploy a new X-band missile-defense radar at the Kyogamisaki air base in western Japan's Kyoto prefecture to join an existing AN/TPY-2 radar in Japan's northern Aomori prefecture.

"Russia has demanded a bigger say in the entire Asia-Pacific region and intends to demonstrate its presence. Russia has many doubts and wants to find an answer to the problems through the 2+2 framework," Lu said.

On territorial issues, Japan has witnessed embarrassing diplomatic deadlocks in the region because of separate disputes with Russia, South Korea and China.

Russia and Japan agreed during a foreign ministerial meeting on Friday to hold talks between deputy foreign ministers sometime between the end of January and the beginning of February to discuss their territorial dispute.

Japan apparently aims to build momentum toward a solution to the two nations' longstanding dispute over the islands, according to Japan's Jiji Press.

The row over the Russian-controlled islands, known as the South Kurils in Russia and the northern territories in Japan, has prevented the two countries from signing a peace treaty since the end of World War II.

However, Japan is "unlikely" to see Moscow make any change on its position regarding territorial issues despite the offer for talks with Tokyo, said Feng Yujun, director of the Institute of Russian Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

"On one hand, Russia hopes to attract more investment from Japan (to help boost economic buildup in the Far East), but on the other hand, Moscow has dismissed Tokyo's intention to trade economic cooperation for a major concession on territorial issues," Feng said.

About a week before the Russian senior diplomats arrived in Tokyo, leading Japanese media had embarked on hyping the 2+2 meeting as a tool to "deal with China".

Japan's Nikkei Business Daily newspaper said on Oct 24 that Moscow is using Japan and playing between China and Japan.

Russia is expanding cooperation with Japan in defense issues to contain China, "which is making a growing maritime presence", Japan's leading newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, commented.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov on Wednesday rejected such reports from Japan, saying that Russia has not and will not put China on its bilateral agenda with Tokyo.

Jia Xiudong, a senior researcher in international affairs at the China Institute of International Studies, said Tokyo may be viewed as narrow-minded if it links every item of its diplomatic agenda to "containing China".

"It is not a zero-sum game, and Sino-Russian relations do not conflict with Japanese-Russian relations.

"As a major player in the world, Russia has its own strategic interests and pragmatic consideration in its diplomacy," Jia said.

The Sino-Russian strategic partnership "will not be disturbed or affected by any external forces", and any attempts to alienate the relationship are doomed to fail, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday.

Contact the writer at zhangyunbi@chinadaily.com.cn