Some circumstances delayed my response to your questions. First, I was waiting for our New-Year vacations to end and my colleague, a professional translator, to be back in the office and help me with writing in normal English (which has not become as comfortable for me as my native Russian). Then, we had a long attack by very low temperatures, so I caught cold and was sick for some time.
Now, everything is fine – I hope, for you, too.
New government.I don’t think that any government of Japan can feel “warm” about Russia. We may only discuss as how some or another government would range its priorities along the Russian vector – provided, of course, that that they have, or that time has come for them to have such priorities. Hatoyama’ government is not different from all previous administrations, and this is another evidence of the fact that Japan does not have ‘Russian priorities’, for which it would consider worthwhile to put aside its territorial claims (at least, for some time). For the time being, the government does not have such priorities, but the Japanese business does have them, Therefore, all major projects (Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Komatsy, Asahi garasu, Sakhalin oil & gas) are projects of business, who does have priorities and does not have claims. Anyway, the democrats’ government will be in power for at least 4 year. When I say “democrats”, I do not mean just Hatoyama or just Ozawa. Hatoyama seems not be prepared for such a high position – he has money, but he does not have experience, and his mother could not give him such a gift as experience. In the top leadership of the cabinet and the party, I see several possible options. Russia would accept any leadership, disregarding the personalities, because Russia’s position is solid.
Economy. Japan’s words of its willingness to cooperate in development of the Russian Far East and Japan’s deeds are two different things, which actually have nothing to do with one another. Most of Tokyo’s official statements pursue political objectives. Reestablished in Japan, the COCOM does not allow transfer of sensitive technologies to Russia. But – Russia does not apply for sensitive technologies, which, for example, are applied in Japan-US TMD. Russia’s needs are much simpler – to make its processing industries more efficient, or to realize major infrastructure projects, such as the railroad route of Japan – Sakhalin – mainland – Europe. So, the main reason is that the current market conditions in Russia involve high risks, which prevent the Japanese business from its activation in Russia. Besides, negative experience of working in the Russian market of the early 1990s deters the small and medium-size companies.
Treaty-related crisis. Discussion on national identity of Japanese people has been underway in Japan for quite a time already. The LDP leaders, too, never stopped to attend to this problem and to offer their optional solutions. All discussions, however, centered around one major point: to become free from everything that was associated with “damage to national pride and dignity”. For the time being, the list of such “damages” includes “illegal occupation of Northern territories by Russia”, “presence of foreign occupation forces in the Japanese territory”, “unfair resolutions by the Tokyo Tribunal”, “barbarian atomic bombings without any strategic rationale”, etc. – that is, everything, which is connected and associated with Japan’s defeat in WW2. “Erasing of war stories” from historical memory of the people would inevitably accelerate the process of national self-identification, This information is not readily available on the table, but if you collect its pieces like a puzzle, would find answers to many questions.
Defense Problems. We all know that it is not the “Japanese threat” that motivates Russia to build and sustain its defense potential in the Far East. Apart from Japan, Russia sees other actors to be concerned about in the Far East and in the Pacific. Even if Japan would register its new helicopter-carrier in the port of Nemuro, this would not be treated as a factor in formation of Russia’s military doctrine. Russia not intend to escalate its military power in the Pacific. Its objective is to have adequate potential in place for prevention and neutralization of threats along the main strategic vectors.