Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 Summary
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a PanoramicPerspective of the World Map
5. Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus
Given the rapidly changing strategic environment of the Asia–Pacific region, promoting cooperation with Russia in every related field and elevating overall Japan– Russia relations contributes not only to Japan’s national interest but also contributes to peace and prosperity in the region. With such understanding, proactive dialogues at various levels were held in 2013, including four summit meetings between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Vladimir Putin and two Foreign Ministers’ Meetings.
During Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Russia in April, the two leaders agreed to accelerate talks in order to find a mutually acceptable solution regarding the issue of concluding a peace treaty. Moreover, Prime Minister Abe was accompanied by an economic mission consisting of 120 business people, and the two leaders determined to promote cooperation including new fields. They also concurred in holding the Year of Japan–Russia Martial Arts Exchanges in 2014. This visit added a new impetus to Japan–Russia relations, and set a new direction for long-term relationships.
In November, the first Japan–Russia Joint Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultations (2+2) was held, and foreign and defense ministers exchanged views on the security and defense policies of both countries, and security cooperation.
The Northern Territories Issue is the most significant challenge between Japan and Russia. Based on the agreement above between Prime Minister Abe and President Putin, vice-ministerial level talks held in August reopened the negotiations, but there remains a wide gap in the basic position of both countries. Through promoting cooperation in every related field including security, economy and people-to-people exchange, Japan has determined to patiently tackle the negotiations with Russia with a view to resolving the Northern Territories Issue, and concluding a peace treaty.
Countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus are situated in a strategic geopolitical location that bridges Asia, Europe, Russia and the Middle East, and have abundant natural resources such as oil, natural gas and minerals. This region is also becoming increasingly important in the context of efforts to address a number of issues facing the international community, such as the stabilization of Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism, measures to counter illicit drugs, and prevention of the proliferation of weapons.
Japan is working to further strengthen bilateral relationships with these countries through frequent visits involving a variety of high-level officials, and will continue to promote regional cooperation in Central Asia utilizing the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue. Keeping in mind that 2014 will mark the tenth anniversary of the initiation of this Dialogue, views were exchanged during 2013 in a wide variety of formats with regard to how best to promote regional cooperation.