Japan wary as US, Europe up sanctions on Russia - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Japan wary as US, Europe up sanctions on Russia

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service, File). FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2014 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Mikhail Klimentyev, Presidential Press Service, File). FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2014 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meet in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia.
(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File). In this Friday, July 11, 2014 photo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File). In this Friday, July 11, 2014 photo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference in Tokyo.
By ELAINE KURTENBACH
Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) - For Japan, the ramping up of sanctions by the West against Russia can be summed up in a familiar phrase: It's complicated.

The tug-of-war over Ukraine threatens to derail Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's moves toward rapprochement with Russia. Relations between Japan and Russia have suffered for decades due to a territorial dispute that has prevented the signing of a peace treaty after World War II.

Yet Japan must toe the line on sanctions: It cannot spurn its main ally the U.S., nor European partners. It also has good reason to stand strong against Russia's apparent support for pro-Russian insurgents who have destabilized swaths of eastern Ukraine, given the parallels with China's ambitions toward disputed Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

Japan's chief government spokesman offered only vague support Thursday for the coordinated American and European moves targeting Russian energy firms, financial institutions, arms suppliers and four individuals.

"We are watching the situation of the EU and U.S.," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular briefing. "Working with the international community is our stance regarding Ukraine, so we would like to take appropriate measures in line with that attitude."

His terse reply says plenty about Japan's ambivalence over the issue.

___

LIMITED SANCTIONS

Japan has imposed sanctions on Russia, but in a very limited way. It has suspended bilateral talks on some issues, and imposed an entry visa ban on 23 individuals, whom it hasn't publicly named.

"Japan is really signaling to Russia that it's not fully committed to the sanctions. It's going along but wants to keep a balanced position," said James D. J. Brown, a political science professor at Temple University's Japan campus in Tokyo.

The visa ban apparently doesn't apply to Sergey Naryshkin, who as chairman of the lower house of Russia's parliament was sanctioned by the U.S. and EU after Russia annexed Crimea. He visited Japan last month to inaugurate a cultural festival, where he delivered a message from Putin praising the event as a way of "enhancing our mutual trust."

Naryshkin also dined with former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who had been shuttling between Tokyo and Moscow as an unofficial envoy, having declared resolution of the territorial dispute his "lifelong duty."

A visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Japan planned for the fall appears to be still in the works.

___

THE ENERGY AND CHINA FACTORS

Tokyo is wary about Beijing cozying up to Moscow, said Valerie Niquet, a senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.

"Tokyo remains interested in rapprochement with Russia to balance Beijing," she said.

Energy is one vital bond. Japanese and Russian companies are pushing ahead with projects, including a liquefied natural gas facility in Sakhalin to increase shipments to Japan and other Asian countries.

"The Russians are not open at all to accepting a lot of investments from China including in energy, so they've built a strong working relationship with Japan," Niquet said.

Putin has also obliged Abe by remaining neutral on the islands in the East China Sea that are claimed by both Tokyo and Beijing.

___

TERRITORIAL CONUNDRUM

Despite those shared interests, it is unclear if Japan and Russia can bridge their dispute over four islands just off the northern tip of Hokkaido.

The Russians captured the islands at the end of World War II, but they are claimed by Japan and a pet cause of Japanese nationalists.

Brown noted that, given Russia's insistence on protecting Russian speakers in Crimea, it seems unlikely that Moscow would give up sovereignty over islands populated mostly by Russian speakers.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Ohio State under shadow again, this time with band

    Ohio State under shadow again, this time with band

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:44 AM EDT2014-07-26 10:44:31 GMT
    The Ohio State marching band is moving forward without its director; a day after he was fired they're performing with the Columbus Symphony in what's often considered the band's unofficial season kickoff.More >>
    Having forced out a beloved football coach and watched its president retire after a series of verbal gaffes, Ohio State University again finds itself grabbing headlines with the firing of a celebrated marching band...More >>
  • Judge dismisses lawsuit over Amelia Earhart search

    Judge dismisses lawsuit over Amelia Earhart search

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:44 AM EDT2014-07-26 10:44:13 GMT
    A federal judge has dismissed a Wyoming man's lawsuit claiming a group secretly found the missing airplane of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart in the South Pacific but kept it quiet so it could continue to raise...More >>
    A federal judge on Friday dismissed a Wyoming man's claims that an aircraft recovery group secretly found wreckage of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart's missing airplane in the South Pacific but kept it quiet so it...More >>
  • Police hunt for 2 who carjacked SUV, killed 3 kids

    Police hunt for 2 who carjacked SUV, killed 3 kids

    Saturday, July 26 2014 2:02 AM EDT2014-07-26 06:02:47 GMT
    Police are searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit at a Philadelphia street corner, killing three kids and seriously injuring two women.More >>
    Police were searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit to raise money for their church, killing three kids and critically injuring their mother and the...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.