Toshio Masuda

Toshio Matsuda, Commentator & Intl Economist

Straight from the Shoulder No.535

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"Straight from the shoulder " by Toshio Masuda July 13, 2009
( Free of charge to the people I met)

A Sound Argument Regarding the Problem Between Japan and Russia
(I truly would like all politicians and members of the media to read this Straight from the Shoulder)
180°Change in Japanese-Russian Diplomacy

Preceding the summit between the heads of Russia and Japan this month, July, the Law on Special Measures to Jump-start the Return of the Northern Territories, which clearly states that “the Northern Territories are inherently the territory of Japan”, was passed by the House of Representatives of the Japanese Diet on June 22 and by the House of Councilors on July 3.
However, on July 10, at a press conference after the closing the G8 Summit held in Italy, the L'Aquila Summit, Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev expressed the view that negotiations with Japan regarding the Northern Territories should be based on the 1956 Japanese-Soviet Joint Declaration, which stipulates the return of Habomai and Shikotan islands following the conclusion of a peace treaty between the two countries, and stated that for Russia, the sole legal basis (for the return of the islands) between the two countries was the 1956 Japanese-Soviet Declaration. While the Japanese government and mass media have taken the view that there has been no basic change in the policies of President Medvedev compared to those of President Vladimir Putin, this a major mistake.

Russia had thoroughly sidestepped the 1956 Japanese-Soviet Joint Declaration.

The 1997 Krasnoyarsk Agreement between Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and Russian President Boris Yeltsin was based on the idea of “concluding a peace treaty between Japan and Russia by 2000”. In September 5, 2000, a summit was held between Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori and Russian President Putin, but President Putin noted that while former President Yeltsin had promised to work to conclude a peace treaty by 2000, it was not written that a treaty would be concluded (by 2000). President Putin effectively refused to conclude a peace treaty. Ultimately, the summit’s joint communique included the statements that “negotiations would continue in order to conclude a peace treaty by resolving the problem of the return of the four northern islands” and “a new version of the joint material would be prepared that include material on the history of the territorial dispute between Japan and Russia from 1993 and later”. The main points of the joint communique and press conference were (1) territorial disputes would take precedence over the peace treaty, (2) the key (to resolving the dispute) is a relationship of trust (goodwill), (3) the history of the northern territories would be that after 1993 (the goal was to sidestep the 1956 Japanese-Soviet Joint Declaration). As a sign of goodwill, the Hashimoto government forgave or postponed the repayment of $200 million in loans to Russia and provided Russia with medical equipment. Under the name of economic cooperation, the Mori government also showed Russia extensive goodwill in various forms including development funds for Russian industry, governmental financial support, and debt forgiveness (up to 20 years worth of debt), but both governments did not even receive a word of thanks from Russia. Since then, Russia has consistently adopted a policy of postponing negotiations on a peace treaty.

Japan’s Defeat

On April 25, 1941, the Soviet Union (Russia) and Japan concluded and both governments ratified the Soviet?Japanese Neutrality Pact, which was to remain in force for five years. The pact stipulated that both countries would not attack the territory of the other and would maintain neutrality if one country were to go to war with a third country. The pact could be abrogated if one country notified the other of its intention to do so up to one year (April 25, 1945) before the pact expired on April 25, 1946. If one country notified the other country of its intention to abrogate the pact, the pact would be void as of April 25, 1946, the expiration date of the pact. According to secret U.S. documents that have been made public, in order to test the power of uranium and plutonium (atomic bombs), the U.S. dropped a uranium one on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and a plutonium one on Nagasaki on August 9. The Soviet Union suddenly notified Japan that it was abrogating the neutrality pact and declared war two days after the first atomic bomb was dropped, on August 8, 1945 (more than three months after the notification deadline). Even after Japan unconditionally surrendered by accepting the Potsdam Declaration on August 15, the Soviet Union did not suspend hostilities but occupied the Northern Territories. Although Japan’s alliance (Tripartite Treaty) partner Germany, which was fighting the Soviet Union on the European front, strongly requested that Japan attack Russia from the rear, Japan firmly abided by the pact and refused Germany’s requests. The Soviet Union’s attack of Japan, however, was an outrage that ignored the Soviet?Japanese Neutrality Pact that the Soviet Union had ratified itself. Following its unconditional surrender, sovereignty of Japan was transferred to the GHQ led by MacArthur on September 6, 1945, and as noted in the previous Straight from the Shoulder, even though Japan concluded the Treaty of Peace with Japan and was no longer a defeated country in regards to the U.S., it is still in fact under military occupation because of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty and has no sovereignty in regards to the U.S. In addition, since Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution forbids the exercise of military force, Japan is powerless to protect itself from aggression.

Improvements in the diplomatic relations between Japan and Russia

During the time of the Ichiro Hatoyama government, the 1956 Japanese-Soviet Joint Declaration was worked out by Ichiro Hatoyama, Ichiro Kono, and Junichi Matsumoto, who represented Japan, and Prime Minister Bulganin and Foreign Minister Dmitri Shepilov of the Soviet Union. The declaration, an agreement that both Habomai and Shikotan would be returned to Japan after a peace treaty was concluded between the two countries, was ratified by both countries on December 12, 1956. It was decided that the issue of the remaining two islands would be resolved after the peace treaty was concluded.
Through the administration of President Putin, Russian foreign policy regarding Japan has consistently been to postpone the conclusion of a peace treaty. As long as Japan and Russia do not sign a peace treaty, the political relationship between Russia and Japan will be one of “victor” and “defeated” of the Second World War even if the relationship between the two countries improves. The fact that Japan is a defeated country in regards to Russia means that Japan has no sovereignty in terms of Russia. Japan cannot stress its sovereignty and is “not equal.” Therefore, Russia has taken the goodwill of Japan, and Japan cannot make a single demand. If Japan and Russia were to sign a peace treaty and were equals, and the Japanese Diet passed a resolution stating that “the Northern Territories were solely Japan’s territory”, Russia would have to respect that. Today Russia, however, naturally ignores it.

United Nations Charter

Why don’t Russia and North Korea want to conclude a peace treaty with Japan?
The reason can be found in the (sections of the) U.N. Charter related to victors and defeated (Japan) of the Second World War
Chapter 17, Article 107, of the U.N. Charter validates actions taken against enemies in the Second World War
“Nothing in the present Charter shall invalidate or preclude action, in relation to any state which during the Second World War has been an enemy (Japan) of any signatory to the present Charter, taken or authorized as a result of that war by the Governments having responsibility for such action.” No matter how (in violation of the Soviet?Japanese Neutrality Pact) Russia, a signatory (to the U.N. Charter), took the Northern Territories from the enemy Japan, the action is valid, and Russia is not obligated to return the territory. This explains why Russia has put off concluding a peace treaty with Japan.
In addition, Chapter 8, Article 53, of the U.N. Charter covers regional security arrangements and the resolution of regional disputes. If a regional dispute arises, no enforcement action can be undertaken by regional agencies (the security agencies of two countries or multiple member countries for the U.N.) to resolve the dispute without the authorization of the Security Council, “with the exception of measures against any enemy state (Japan) of the former Allied Powers”.
It probably is clear that not having signed a peace treaty with Japan, North Korea, therefore, can matter-of-factly attack Japan.

Japan’s diplomatic policy that gives the highest priority to the return of the northern islands is “beggar’s diplomacy”

The Northern Territory problem is not a problem of dimensions?2 islands, 3.5 islands, or such. The priority is for Japan to become an equal of Russia and a sovereign nation that can negotiate on equal terms.
Concluding a peace treaty will free Japan of the “Second World War enemy” status and transform it into “a sovereign state that can respect the sovereignty of others and whose sovereignty is respected.” As long as Japan demands the return of the four northern islands, those islands will not be returned. Russia’s foreign policy related to Japan has been to consistently postpone the conclusion of a peace treaty, but believe it or not, on June 10, the new Russian President stated that “Russia considers the 1956 Japanese-Soviet Joint Declaration the only legal document (regarding the return of the islands) between the two countries, and discussions (with Japan) must be based on that document”. The two islands of Habomai and Shikotan will be returned when a peace treaty is concluded. As for the remaining two islands, if they are returned to Japan, this will extend Japan’s exclusive economic zone around 200 miles square. Japan should calculate the economic value of this and negotiate with Russia on an equal basis. There must be a shift from the “give and give” of an enemy state to the “give and take” of a sovereign state. The government, politicians, and the mass media misunderstand the view of President Medvedev and may not understand that this is a once-in-a-century chance. How long will Japan remain a “ruined country lacking sovereignty”?

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Written by Toshio Masuda