Diplomatic Bluebook 2015
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a Panoramic Perspective of the World Map
Section 5 Russia, Central Asia and Caucasia
Given the rapidly changing strategic environment of the Asia-Pacific region, developing relations with Russia as Japan’s partner in the region contributes to Japan’s national interest. With such understanding, Japan made efforts to have political dialogues with Russia while taking into consideration the international situation, including the situation in Ukraine. In 2014, three summit meetings and one foreign ministers’ meeting took place.
Given the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, Japan repeatedly called upon Russia to play a constructive role in improving the situation and implemented a series of measures against Russia, placing significance on solidarity of the Group of Seven (G7). Although Japan faced challenges in handling Japan-Russia relations, it steadily promoted exchanges and cooperation in respective fields while maintaining political dialogues.
In the field of security, Secretary General Shotaro Yachi of the National Security Secretariat (NSS) visited Russia. In addition, exchanges between defense authorities were carried out, such as a Japan-Russia joint search and rescue exercise. In the field of economic cooperation, many projects are in progress, including in the fields of healthcare, urban environment, agriculture, and energy conservation, along with energy, a traditional key area of cooperation.
In 2014, more than 40 events in cultural and sports exchanges were held all over Japan and Russia under the framework of the “Japan-Russia Budo (Martial Arts) Exchange Year” agreed upon by the leaders of the two countries.
As for the Northern Territories issue, which is the greatest concern between Japan and Russia, negotiations were conducted at the vice-ministerial level talk in January and on other occasions, but there remains a wide gap in the basic positions of both countries. Through promoting overall Japan-Russia relations in every related field, Japan will energetically continue negotiations with Russia with a view to concluding a peace treaty, through the resolution of the Northern Territories issue.
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 adjacent to Afghanistan, from which the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrew in 2014. In this regard, the region remains important in the context of efforts to address key issues facing the international community such as the stability of the whole region including Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism, and measures to counter illicit drugs.
Japan has promoted regional cooperation in Central Asia through the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue. In 2014, which marked the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Dialogue, member countries agreed to strengthen practical cooperation.