Should I be friends with neighbors?
Returning to the "old bayan" issue of the 4 islands of the Kuril ridge ... It is clear that one must defend one's territorial integrity and disprove another's integrity. So to say, "dig" under the neighbors. To create problems for them and self-doubt. It’s as if understandable. It seems to be logical. So many countries have done this almost always.
Why not? To unite their own citizens, to demonize a neighbor ... why not? It’s quite an intelligent and logical decision. So that, so to speak, the neighbor did not relax. Well, yes, after the 1945, the USSR did not demand anything from anyone and did not pretend to be anything. And something gave? Somehow it is not clear. But Japan, which openly presented territorial claims to it, for some reason “didn’t ban” and did not lose its authority. Somehow it's weird.
So are the islands Japanese? So why would it ... that is, that very militaristic Japan, defeated during WWII, began a new life after the 1945 year and even abandoned the armed forces, but not from claims to the "northern territories". And somehow you know it, it's rather strange. It was even customary for us to mock Japan’s “occupation and demilitarization” slightly, but for some reason all this damn time, the Japanese continued to pretend to be “northern territories”, don't you find this suspicious?
Soviet international journalists liked to emphasize with reproach in their voices the contradictory nature of the peaceful constitution of Japan and the presence of numerous American military bases ... But what the hell! All this time, Japan continued to pretend to Karafuto, ugh you, to the "northern territories". And this, by the way, completely depreciated the entire ostentatious "peacefulness" of the Japanese constitution. We love, you know, to give unreasonable advances to any and all.
Our continuous admiration for the “peacefulness” of post-war Japan in a strange way looked rather ambiguous in the light of its territorial claims ... That is, even Nazi Germany did not make such claims against us. Before the attack. Something like this. Even when Hitler was alive! Nazi Germany attacked the USSR without declaring war at all (she did it after start of hostilities). But in peace-loving, "fluffy", "pretty" and "anime" Japan, such claims had a place to be.
In the "peace" time. Sorry, but ignoring such claims is unprofessional enough, such things very often end badly. This article does not in any way pretend to be “historic” and is not an attempt to reconstruct history Russian-Japanese territorial relations. In no way. However, from the author’s point of view, it is the history of Russian-Japanese relations that is the endless history of the conflict.
The border was constantly “corrected”, moved and disputed. Constantly around this were “graters”. To begin with, the first treaty (Simodsky Treaty) Russia signed in extremely a disadvantageous moment for themselves, which, in fact, the Japanese did not fail to take advantage of. 1855 year is an extremely unfortunate moment for the Russian side to sign any major agreements.
Bad start. Well, then it all went haphazardly. Russian-Japanese, Japanese intervention during the Civil War in Russia ... And even when the Japanese cultural tribes were knocked out of the mainland, with Sakhalin (its Soviet part) everything was far from so simple. 20-30-years - a very difficult period in Soviet-Japanese relations. Conflicts, confrontation and provocations (from the Japanese side) and attacks on Soviet ships. It was ... it was. There was a place to be. Hassan Lake and Khalkhin Gol are just small episodes of a great confrontation in the Far East.
Just in relation to the tragic events of the Great Patriotic War, this all fades into the background, but to be honest, the USSR and the Japanese Empire had practically no "peace" or "normal relations". There, in the Far East, a fairly tough confrontation constantly ensued, resulting in armed clashes. So it was before the signing of the Neutrality Pact of 13 on April 41, and so it was after its signing.
And the alarming expectation of a Japanese invasion in the summer and fall of the 41 year ... Accusing the USSR of "aggression" in the 1945 year, critics usually poke that "when the USSR is on the edge of the abyss, Japan keeps its word." Yes, no matter how! There has never actually been peace in the Far East (that is, normal relations). Neither in 20, nor in 30, nor during WWII. Constantly there were border provocations from the Japanese side and attacks on Soviet merchant ships.
That is, the Stalinist Soviet Union for objective reasons very was interested in at least normal relations with Japan. At least in normal. But these “normal” relations did not exist ... They were completely unattainable for the USSR. What is the "word" held by the Japanese? The attack on the USSR in the course of Operation Barbarossa was completely considered ... but this plan was postponed for objective reasons: from the point of view of the Japanese, the USSR was not defeated in the fall of the 1941, and there were too many Soviet troops left in the Far East.
And Hitler literally drove the Japanese into battle, and they referred - no, not to the Pact, not at all. They referred precisely to Soviet soldiers of the Far East. Something like this. That is, from 1904 to 1943, somehow it was all sad at the Far Eastern borders ... and quite ambiguous. And the defeat of the Kwantung Army is not a kind of “stab in the back” of the neutral. No, it was a rout of the old enemy. Yes, this enemy was in a difficult situation, so what does it change?
Once again, the historical “excursion” into Japanese-Russian relations requires much more text. But if so, glancing briefly at these very “relationships”, the question involuntarily arises: when were they good? And even after that “big war” somehow they (these same relationships) did not warm. Not at all warmed up. After the 1945 year, a lot has changed in the world, but not that. Not Russian-Japanese contradictions.
Neither after 1905, nor after 1945, any “normalization” arose. That is, we just tried to create the appearance of this very "normalization". Very high quality visibility. Simply we the issue of belonging to the 4 islands of the Kuril ridge was not considered at all (for the general public), which allowed a positive look at the future, but the Japanese did not appreciate this broad gesture. And they continued to insist on a "return."
That is, just the Brezhnev period is never a period of normalization of Russian-Japanese relations, no, it is a period of silence and ignoring. As we see, this did not lead to positive results. Rather, the opposite. The issue of “ownership” of the islands has not gone away and “suddenly” arose again already in the Gorbachev era. Suddenly for the inhabitants of the USSR, but not Japan.
And it seems a big mistake to consider the very “issue of ownership” as a kind of “minor trifle”. This is unfortunately not a trifle. If this is already 70 years interferes with the conclusion of a peace treaty, then this is not a trifle, it is something serious. This is precisely the question that has been allowing 70 for years to keep Russian-Japanese relations in a "suspended" state. And so here it is "easy" to solve it is unlikely to succeed.
Is our neighbor so “peaceful”?
And it was precisely this question that made it possible to have some kind of “dual” situation: the “peace-loving”, which refused the Japanese army, which has some territorial claims against the USSR. In essence, this is a unique situation in the period after the 1945 year. And who else there quite openly expressed their territorial claims? I don’t remember something like that. But just Japan (the former Axis country, if that!) Just expressed such claims! So when did the Second World War end for the USSR? In fact, the war ends with the signing of a peace treaty.
Of course, our American partners did everything so that this treaty was not signed, but, nevertheless, the fact remains. A special desire on the part of the Japanese to “wave the contractor” has somehow not been observed all these years.
They say that the current situation (70 years without a peace treaty) somehow looks abnormal. Here, in general, they agree, and even the Japanese. And they offer a “simple and elegant” solution: give them 4 islands. That's right, and nothing else. That is why even in the "saints 90" and even with Yeltsin they failed to sign anything? And the whole thing was precisely in the ultimatum of their requirements. But even in the 90-s, the position of Japan was not so strong, and the position of Russia was not so weak as to put forward ultimatums.
Here, gentlemen, the matter is not so much in patriotism and high morality as in the "balance of power." So, even in 90 it wasn’t so bad. And, damn it, Yeltsin was ready to give up two islands (a man very much dreamed of a “rapprochement”), but the Japanese were not ready for this. They were satisfied only option to "return" 4's islands. And just then an absolutely unbelievable offer arose to work under the 2 + 2 scheme, that is, “first” transfer the 2 islands, and then another 2 ... Are they holding us for fools?
Then, in the Japanese Foreign Ministry, the “grouping” was just crushed, which, based on the realities of life, suggested taking what they give (2 islands) and not bother with any unattainable nonsense. That is, it is just doubtful that the Japanese side is really striving for good relations. When they strive for the very good relations, then, as a rule, they do not put forward ultimatums. In general, ultimatums are put forward after the war is won. Here we are dealing not with negotiations, but with an ultimatum.
And this is a very big difference. All attempts by the Russian-Soviet side to agree on something just came up against the peremptory nature of Japanese demands. That is, our diplomats, being professionals, proceeded from the logical premise that the requirement of "return" is such a "beautiful entry" to the negotiating table, nothing more. Well, it’s reasonable, and then, at the negotiating table, you can already settle everything ...
So, in the future they were waiting for a "surprise": the Japanese really demanded a “return” of the 4 islands as a first step, which made all negotiations completely and completely meaningless. And here the question arises: how to build serious relations with a country for which Russia is reduced to the 4 islands? Does it make sense, is there any profit here? That is, if the Japanese were really interested primarily in good relations with Russia, then the question of the islands would somehow settle down. But they just want the islands exclusively. Do you feel the difference?
That is, our team of negotiators periodically changes and each new one proceeds from the principle of "garbage, we will destroy it." And after a while stumbles ... stumbles ... on the complete incompatibility of the opposite side. And our diplomats sincerely precipitate (apparently). That is, they (the Japanese) really want to get 4 islands at all costs. The difference between the Russian and Japanese approaches is, excuse me, the difference in the approach of a cynical businessman and fanatic.
Here you involuntarily ask yourself the very question: do they really want to be with us, no, not to be friends, well, just to maintain "normal" relations? Something is somehow unlike. It is categorically incomprehensible why we are so actively discussing the issue of precisely and specifically the islands and their affiliation. We clearly do not see forests behind the trees (beyond the islands - the essence of Russian-Japanese relations).
Sorry, but we fall into that very trap: give the islands back - and everything will be fine ... So give it or not? The fact that “everything will be fine” is perceived as a given, why it is not clear. Logically, this does not substantiate in any way: for the last hundred and twenty years we have been enemies. No, there were even periods of rapprochement with the Germans, with the British and Americans ... but not with the Japanese.
Are the Japanese very good people? Well, perhaps, perhaps ... But neither the Chinese nor the Koreans will agree with you. That is, in relation to Russia, the samurai comrades discuss exclusively the issue of the islands, and as if in “otvetka” ours also begin to discuss the same ridiculous question. If you look at the situation a little wider, then the picture, frankly, is not pleasing to the eye.
Do the Japanese really need those very islands (when it’s cold enough for them in Hokkaido)? Or do they need a reason to "get to the bottom" of Russia? Agree that there is perhaps no better way to spark a conflict than to put forward an inadequate demand, and then insist on its full implementation.