As soon as Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got back home after his long visit to Russia, the domestic political establishment immediately learnt stunning news. As it turned out, Junichiro Koizumi managed to do what his predecessors failed to achieve within the last fifty years. The Japanese prime minister achieved tremendous success in the problem concerning the Kurile Islands: Russia is ready to give the disputable South Kurile islands over to Japan, he informed.
As Junichiro Koizumi said at a meeting with representatives of the Liberal-Democratic party, Russia President Vladimir Putin understood Tokyo’s log-term policy, and a bilateral peace treaty could be signed only when Russia returned the four disputable Kurile Islands to Japan. This in fact means that Moscow is ready to give the islands over to Japan, not at once, but within the nearest years. It is very likely that in return to the disputable islands the Japanese prime minister promised wonders to Russia, investments into the Russian economy at the rate of billions of dollars, for instance.
The statement of the Japanese prime minister is certainly a sensation, but it is highly likely that Junichiro Koizumi indulges in wishful thinking. Over the whole history of the dispute about the four South Kurile Islands, Tokyo always believed that Moscow’s statements concerning its readiness to discuss the problem were explained by the intention to cede the islands to Japan. And the Russian leadership (as well as the Soviet one before) always had to refute such statements. And Japan inevitably blamed Russia for violation of the agreements achieved on the problem. As a result, the dialogue concerning the South Kurile islands was always back to its starting point. To all appearances, it may happen this time once again.
It’s also important to pay attention to the other side of the problem. It’s clear that a politician who declares that the problem of the so-called northern territories is settled will be extremely popular in his country. The man will be honored till his last days. The present-day prime minister of Japan is a very smart politician; however, it is highly likely that he himself (or his advisors) decided that statements of this kind will add popularity to Junichiro Koizumi
When Junichiro Koizumi became Japan’s prime minister, he was supported by the overwhelming majority of the Japanese population (over 80%). This is the popularity rate desired by any politician. But Koizumi’s Cabinet failed to cope with the economic stagnation in Japan. Russian newspaper Yezhednevnye Novosti – Vladivostok rightfully mentions that the Japanese prime minister is currently devoting more attention to the foreign policy and pompous PR campaigns. As a result, Junichiro Koizumi still enjoys the support of majority of the voters. However, to support this popularity rating and even to increase it, meetings with Kim Jong-il are not enough. Is there anything more important for Japan than the statements saying that the disputable Kurile Islands will be once again Japan’s territory?
On the whole, one more conclusion can be made in connection with the situation. The South Kurile problem seems to have entered the stage of bargaining between Moscow and Tokyo. To all appearances, Russia doesn’t any longer immediately reject the possibility of return of the islands to Japan. This is just the matter of price that Japan will be ready to pay for the disputable “northern territories.” In any case, this price will be high enough.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/15/42/5468_japan.html
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building