Russia announced that it would deny visas to several Japanese officials as a response measure to Japan’s sanctions imposed on Russia by G7 countries. MOFA official stated: “This will have negative impact on Japan-Russia relations. We are disappointed.” and mentioned that the Russian move will be analyzed and proper response considered in the beginning of the next week. Japanese government reaffirms that it will be further cooperating with G7 over the sanctions on Russia. The list of officials who would be denied entry to Russia will not be disclosed.
State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf in connection with the Russia’s military exercises near the Kunashiri and Etorofu islands, which are a part of the Northern Territories long occupied by Russia, stated: “The United States recognizes Japanese sovereignty over these islands.”
The question and answer during Harf’s daily press briefing in Washington DC on Aug 13 went like this:
QUESTION: And just in the region, also on Russia, do you have any comment on the Russian exercises in what they call the Southern Kuril* Islands? The Japanese were upset.
MS. HARF: Yes. Let me see what I have on that. I have something brief. The United States recognizes Japanese sovereignty over these islands. And don’t have – I said it was brief. Don’t have anything more for you.
* in the transcript it was written as “Kirul”, which is obviously a typo
The government confirmed on Aug 13 that Russia conducted military exercises on the occupied Northern Territories. This information was distributed via Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is a high probability that the exercises took place at the Etorofu and Kunashiri islands vicinity. Details are being confirmed. Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to express Japan’s strong protest to Russia on the same day.
Russian Ministry of Defense announced on Aug 12 that Russia started military exercises at the Kuril Islands, which include the Northern Territories. Over one thousand military personnel and five attack helicopters are taking part in the trainings. Exercises are aimed to boost Russia’s ability to protect the remote islands.
Foreign Ministry official Shinsuke Sugiyama during his visit to the US on Aug 11 conducted discussions with senior American officials – Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman and Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller. Sugiyama explained the position of Abe’s administration in respect to dealing with Russia over the situation in Ukraine the approach to the problem of North Korea.
During the talks Sugiyama stressed the importance of cooperation between the G7 countries and also between Japan, America and Korea. There was also opinion exchange over the situation in Iraq.
Reflecting on the meeting Sugiyama said: “We had a chance to discuss a wide range of subjects. I believe the US can now understand our position”.
Japan imposed additional sanctions on Russia. The assets of 40 people and two companies thought to be involved in Russia’s annexation of Crimea and destabilizing the situation in the Eastern Ukraine are to be freezed if found to be in Japan’s jurisdiction. Import of goods made in the annexed Crimea peninsula are to be restricted.
This of course does not inflict any serious damage on Russia and pro-Russian terrorists openly supported by Russia in the Eastern Ukraine. Distinct from the EU sanctions, there is no close Putin’s business ‘friends’ among those 40. It is clear that Japan does not want to impose more strict sanctions hoping to continue dialogue with Russia this fall on returning the occupied Northern Territories.
The problem is that Russia does not appreciate Japan’s consideration at all. It cancelled the consultations of foreign affairs deputies that were to be held in the end of August. Japanese government expressed deep regret over the Russia’s unilateral decision to postpone the consultations. The source in the Japanese government pointed out: “It is a pity that Russia closes the door for dialogue”.
in the news
The Party for Future Generations has been officially registered today in Tokyo. Many expected that Shintaro Ishihara would become the president, but earlier he stated that he had no such ambitions. The president of the new party became Ishihara’s old ally Takeo Hiranuma, Hiroshi Yamada became party secretary-general, and Ishihara himself became party’s supreme adviser.
PFG headquarters will be in Nagatachou in the building next to the LDP’s headquarters. Secretary-general of LDP Shigeru Ishiba greeted the appearance of the new party, which policy, for example, changes to the current Constitution, is close to that of LDP saying: “Please give us advice if we fail somewhere”. Hiranuma replied: “Even if we are the opposition party we would support what is good and oppose what is bad. In the spheres we can cooperate, we will.”
There are 22 members in the new party (19 in the Lower House and 3 in the Upper House).