The newspaper Sankey Shimbun, expressing the interests of the nationalist circles of Japan, was excited about the construction of a fiber-optic communication line to the southern Kurils. As the Sankai wrote, the Russian authorities notified the Japanese Maritime Safety Directorate that from June to October inclusive, in the southern part of the Sea of Okhotsk, an underwater fiber-optic line would be built along the route Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin Island) - Kurilsk (Island Iturup) - Yuzhno-Kurilsk (Kunashir Island) - Krabozavodskoe (Shikotan Island).
Tokyo returns to militant rhetoric
The head of Rostelecom, Mikhail Oseevsky, reported on this project back in January to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Then it was announced that the state telecommunications company would lay a line with 2019 Gbit / s bandwidth on the Kuril Islands by 40. Oseevsky promised the president that this communication cable would provide the entire population of the Kuril Islands with high-speed Internet.
That time news from the head of "Rostelecom" in Japan somehow did not notice. At least, the authorities in Tokyo then kept silent. The Japanese Foreign Ministry refrained from any demarches. Now the diplomatic department of Japan in a special communique expressed its official protest.
“The implementation of such a large-scale infrastructure project does not correspond to the position of Japan on the northern territories and is regrettable,” Sankei quotes a special note from its Foreign Ministry, which was transferred to the Russian Embassy.
At first glance, there was a duty protest of the Japanese diplomatic department, which confirmed its political guidelines to the public. However, the Foreign Ministry’s position was supplemented by the Secretary General of the Cabinet of Ministers of Japan, Yoshihide Suga. He stated that "such actions (of Russia - ed.) Are based on the unlawful seizure of islands."
Japanese officials have not used the term “illegal seizure of islands” common among local nationalists for quite a while. Back in the spring of 2012, the government of Japan, which then represented the Democratic Party, decided at a special meeting not to use the phrase “illegally occupied territories” in relation to the four islands of the southern Kuriles, but to use a softer term - “busy without legal grounds”.
At the end of the same year, the Democrats were replaced by the liberal-democratic cabinet of Shinzo Abe. The new government did not correct the political rhetoric of its predecessors towards Russia. Abe decided that such a soft policy would help “even during the lifetime of the current generation” to return to Japan the islands of the Kuril ridge, which it had lost as a result of the Second World War.
It should be noted that by that time the topic of the “northern territories” was pretty worn out in the public consciousness of the Japanese. Annual surveys conducted by the Government of Japan since 1969, have recorded a sharp decline in public interest in it.
Only 2% of respondents showed conviction in the need to return the islands. Public actions of these activists were ready to support another 35 percent of the respondents. The rest (and this is more than 60% of respondents) either the essence of the problem was not clear, or they considered the campaign to return the northern territories to be meaningless, “because it will not lead to the desired result”.
Prime Minister Abe made the return of the “northern territories” one of the central themes of his international policy. Moreover, the very fact of persistent negotiations on this issue with the Russian President Vladimir Putin returned the interest of the Japanese to the Kuril Islands.
Few people believe in Shinzo Abe in Russia. In Japan, on the contrary, now more and more people are inclined to believe that the diplomatic efforts of Prime Minister Abe can bring results. Against this background, the quite undiplomatic statement of Secretary General Yoshihide Sugi, who demonstrated the militant Japanese rhetoric of past years, was quite unexpected.
She once again reminded everyone that the current government in Tokyo was formed from politicians with pronounced nationalist views and even revanchist sentiment. These people are ready to use not only diplomatic, but also power means.
In vain, perhaps, in the summer of 2016, during the elections to the Chamber of Councilors of Japan, Shinzo Abe and his supporters launched a broad campaign to change the country's constitution, more precisely, its articles 9, prohibiting the conduct of war and the creation of land, sea and air forces?
Literally, this article is worded as follows: “Sincerely striving for international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as the sovereign right of the nation, as well as the threat or use of armed force as a means of resolving international disputes. To achieve the goal indicated in the previous paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other means of war, will never be created in the future. The right to a state of war is not recognized. ”
What are the ambitions of Japan?
Abe considers this article an obvious anachronism and demands its cancellation. Last spring, he set the deadline for revising the constitution - 2020 year. By this time, the armed forces of Japan should finally be formed into a powerful, modern and well-armed army.
The Japanese government supports its plans by increasing spending on military programs. If in the 2016 year they spent $ 41,7 billion on defense, then this year they planned $ 48,2 billion. However, today military analysts confidently put the Japanese army among the seven strongest in the world.
Specialists from Credit Suisse in their ranking of the armed forces of the countries of the world in general took the fourth place to Japan, ahead of India with its more than one million and well-equipped army. The Swiss did not compare absolute figures, but focused on the fact that Washington’s military power is behind Tokyo.
And the Japanese Self-Defense Forces themselves are a formidable force, especially their naval component. First, it includes four aircraft carriers, even if adapted for attack helicopters. Secondly, Japan has the fourth largest submarine fleet. Finally, surface ships also look very impressive - more than forty destroyers with guided missile weapons and half a dozen frigates.
All this army is modestly called the Naval Self-Defense Forces. The Japanese justified their purely defensive nature by the fact that in the composition fleet there are no units of the marine corps, with its striking tasks of capturing enemy coastal facilities.
Now this flaw is eliminated. 7 on April 2018, in Nagasaki, an official ceremony was held to introduce a new unit of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, called the Mobile Amphibious Forces. Behind this euphemism lies a division of more than two thousand fighters with functions similar to a brigade of marines stationed on the island of Kyushu. Equipped with "amphibious forces" convertibles MV-22 Osprey and American-made AAV-7 amphibious fighting vehicles.
At the ceremony in Nagasaki, the Minister of Defense of Japan, Itsunori Onodera, promised to increase the composition of this unit at least one and a half times in the coming years and said: "Mobile amphibious forces must demonstrate to the international community a firm desire to protect our islands."
The build-up of military muscles allows Japanese politicians to more boldly formulate their political goals. In this regard, the construction of the Russian communication line was only a pretext for the Japanese Foreign Ministry and a high-ranking government official to tell the world about the possible toughening of Tokyo’s position on the South Kuril Islands.
“It is important to solve the problem of the northern territories as such. The Japanese government will continue to persistently negotiate with Russia to resolve the issue of ownership of the four northern islands and conclude a peace treaty, ”said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s ambitions.
The Russian ambassador to Japan, Mikhail Galuzin, responded to the demarche of Tokyo. “Russia does not accept Tokyo’s territorial claims on the southern Kuriles, the parties are not looking for a compromise on it, but on the conclusion of a peace treaty,” the ambassador said in an interview with RIA Novosti. - We do not accept territorial claims in our address in any direction, including in South Kuril. We consistently proceed from the fact that the southern Kuriles were transferred to the Soviet Union and Russia following the results of the Second World War in accordance with the agreements between the Allied Powers. ”
At this public debate has ceased. Judging by the clause Yoshihide Suga, to which the Sankey Shimbun refers, the parties switched to a dialogue through diplomatic channels. This is a sure sign that the degree of bellicose rhetoric will decline, and pragmatism, which has distinguished the Russian-Japanese negotiations on the issue of the South Kuriles in recent years, will come back to everyday life.
Japanese passion around Russian fiber
- Gennady Granovsky
- Photos used: